December 20, 2012

Pregnancy and my body: gains and losses

two weeks postpartum

Over the course of my 39 weeks of pregnancy I gained 33 lbs. The weight distributed all over my body but of course concentrated most in my stomach. The total was more than I had hoped to gain because I didn't start off especially small. But I followed my body's cues with regard to eating and tried my best to eat healthily.

three weeks postpartum

At a visit to my dermatologist to discuss postpartum skincare, 2.5 weeks after birth, I had lost 27.5 of the pounds I had gained. I feel pretty pleased by this though I don't know what is normal or abnormal. I also began pregnancy in the thick of cake season* during which I was about 10 lbs heavier than my preferred weight. So if I am keeping track, I have about five pregnant lbs and ten cake season lbs left to shed. Breastfeeding has helped me so far. I have read that the final lbs linger on breastfeeding moms because the body keeps them as a makeshift insurance policy (i.e. in the event that I no longer had access to food, the additional weight would allow me to still produce for my child). Realistically, my inability to go to the gym for another 5-6 weeks will inhibit my level of fitness, regardless of what the scale says.

Back in September, I packed away my favorite fall and winter clothes, anticipating that I would not be able to fit into them for another year or so. I've dug through them this week to see what already fits while still being nursing-friendly. No matter what, I am still wearing my maternity pants because they are so darn comfy and the stretchy band at the top feels supportive over my tender abdomen.

Speaking of my abdomen and recovery, while in the hospital I was given a belly binder to help provide counter pressure over my incision. That did really help for the first week after birth. When I shed the bulk of the retained water my medical binder became too large and too stretched out to bind so I turned to the commercial binders a friend had sent me as generous hand-me-downs in anticipation of my birth. I ultimately purchased a Squeem which gives me much more intense support.

I am not sleeping in the binder anymore but I try to wear it for at least a few hours every day. When I sneeze, belly laugh, or cough my incision aches so the binder is useful for extra support. If I catch the pain-inducing action in time, I press my hands up against my abdomen which helps offer much needed counter pressure.

The other major body change is my bust. I am still trying to find supportive nursing bras though I bought a molded cup one from Target as a quick fix. I hate the added bulk of molded cups so I eventually took a chance on this La Leche League bra. It is a little big in the cups when I'm not full but it allows room for my breast pads. When I am feeling mobile post holiday madness, I am going to revisit Judy at A Mother's Boutique for a fitting and breastfeeding-friendly supplies. I intended to get there before birth but birth came early.

I have driven twice since surgery. Once to parallel park my mom's car on my street. And once for about 20 minutes on the way home from my mom's family's holiday party. I found that on the lengthier drive, my incision pain felt most intense while using the gas or break pedal over bumps or potholes. With this knowledge I will avoid certain streets in dire need of paving. I have gone to Target with baby (thanks to the help of my mom and sister) and a restaurant (Mad Mex where one of my mothers-in-law was having a bday party). But I didn't drive in either case.

Despite my soreness, I am pretty amazed by the body's resilience. Gestating, laboring, and undergoing major surgery have certainly changed some aspects of my physical self permanently. But a lot of things feel normal. My heartburn is gone. My need to pee a zillion times a night went with it. My back and pelvic girdle pain have subsided. I don't have sciatica anymore. My feet are almost back to normal (though not quite). And my waist is visible again. I do still have relatively clear skin which will change once my cycle returns. But considering the immense changes I experienced, my body almost feels like mine.

*cake season marks the time of year between February and April when Chris and I celebrate our birthdays and eat a lot of cake. 

December 11, 2012

One week postpartum... birth and recovery

Above depicts almost one week but 6 days to be exact. My body is ... recovering. I am still sore. Particularly at the cite of incision (because in my birth story there was an incision).

Suffice it to say that birth didn't go according to plan. This fact becomes easier for me to confront with each passing day but that doesn't mean it is easy. At least not yet. I don't plan to post my full birth story here but the synopsis is that I went into labor at home. Began timing contractions around 2:30 am on Sunday morning (Nov. 25th). Woke up Chris at 3 when I realized that things were likely happening. I labored at home until around 10am that morning when I called the midwife on duty and my parents. My favorite memories of labor are from that period of being at home. I was having back labor and things felt really intense so Chris drew me a bath and poured warm water on me. Standing during contractions helped. Moving through contractions helped. Both of these options were no longer available once I went to the hospital, unfortunately.

Sitting on the birth ball somehow made it feel worse through my back but that was just as well. By the time I got to the hospital I was 8cm dilated. I couldn't believe it! I was still walking around and talking through contractions so I anticipated being told I was 3 or 4 cm. For this reason, I truly believe I could have made it to 10 without interventions. But my blood pressure was elevated and my heart condition caused enough concern that I was not given much choice but to receive an epidural. Had I known this decision was made for me by my care providers (who never informed me) I would have waited a little longer, hoping to get to 10. Hindsight. I wish I hadn't made such a big deal during my prenatal care about my relatively common heart condition for this reason.* Hindsight.

The story from here isn't a new or surprising one. The epidural stalled me out. Over the course of the afternoon and evening, they broke my water and I was given pitocin. Both of these things made back labor worse. And when it was time to push nothing could counteract the fact that I was completely numb in the area where I needed to feel. So my pushing was ineffective. I pushed for four hours and was told that I had failed to move her down far enough. She was also possibly sunny side up? At this point my memories become blurry. Anyway, the OB checked me and determined that Emilia and I were not candidates for suction or forceps.

So the further condensed version of all of this is that I wound up with a surgical birth. Although I wrote here many times about how I intended to be open-minded and flexible nothing could emotionally prepare me for that moment... and all the moments that it rendered impossible.

I spent my entire pregnancy envisioning that she'd come out of me and be placed immediately on my chest. I thought about whether Chris (squeamish as he is) would be able to cut the cord or if my mom would have to do it. I brainstormed what to wear so that I could as easily and swiftly as possible begin skin to skin, breastfeed, and bond with my baby girl.

It is hard not to have those memories that I anticipated with such excitement and (to be honest) certainty. It is hard to have instead the memory of a sheet in front of my face as my body was strapped down, shivering, and nauseous from all the medications being pumped into my veins. My least favorite memory of birth was hearing her cry but being unable to see her. The nagging almost primal desire to want to hold her was unlike anything I've ever felt. But my limbs were numb so holding her was not going to be an option. No one brought her over to me or lowered the curtain. No one gave us the chance to do skin to skin with our faces. Chris did get to hold her and for that I am grateful. I didn't really meet her until I was post op.  And there were no medically emergent reasons for any of these decisions except that they were hospital protocol. I wasn't aware of this protocol. My birth plan's section on surgical birth requested simple things be done to humanize the operation. Lowering the curtain, skin to skin, and other small requests I wrote in it were approved by the midwives. Had these requests been a part of my birth I am sure the hard feelings I'm having in hindsight would be less... hard.

Don't get me wrong. I am so glad we are both healthy. I am so glad to have medical care that can ensure our health and survival even if my particular birth experience felt dehumanizing and traumatic at points. Even as it hurts to get up and down, even as it hurts to twist or maneuver my body, even as I look at my body which has the aftermath of both vaginal and surgical birth to recover from, even after my milk was delayed by a day while my body took its time in recognizing that she was born, I am so so so grateful. I am grateful for this baby and this new life. I am also grateful that she was born at 12:10 am on November 26th because November 25th was by far the most terrifying day of my life. And I am lucky that its anniversary will not fall on a day I intend to celebrate fully and richly for the rest of my life.

*Even one of the anesthesiologists mentioned after the fact that the reason why my condition, called PFO isn't studied is not because it is so anomalous or unique. It's because it is utterly mundane and common. So inevitably plenty of pregnant people have had vaginal, unmedicated births with a PFO. I say this because I fear people will read "heart condition" and think my desire for an unmedicated birth is unreasonable or selfish.  

December 9, 2012

(Belated) Week 39: She's here!

I didn't quite make it to week 39. The baby decided to come early. I half expected this since I was the only pregnant woman I knew who wanted to be a few days late (for work reasons). But now that she's here, I couldn't be happier! And to be honest, it is for the best. Although I feel terrible that the semester's end was atypical for my students and I will have my lion's share of grading to plow through, remotely while sleep deprived and nursing, my physical discomforts in late pregnancy grew with every day.

Here is Emilia Irene:

I can already tell she's strong, alert, determined, and incredibly sweet. Chris and I couldn't be more proud or in love.

November 18, 2012

Week by week: 38!

38 weeks and the side view is striking!

My mom told me that her first child (which happens to be me) was born 15 days early. As I come upon that auspicious milestone in my own pregnancy, my thoughts are anticipatory but anxious. I am so excited to meet this tiny creature who has been kicking and hiccuping up a storm. But I also don't know that I will ever feel completely ready for birth or for the qualitative life changes that parenthood will surely bring.

I do know that my 38 weeks of extra feelings have made me more weepy than usual. I thought I was uncomfortable a few weeks ago but I now believe that I didn't know from uncomfortable. My indigestion and heartburn remain fierce. My desire to clean and organize and take care of business has intensified while my physical agility decreases. My abilities to focus and find the right language on the fly are diminished. Chris jokes that there's no blood left in my brain. Hopefully my students don't notice. I think I manage to be lucid in the classroom but evaluations of lucidity are interpretive. I am doing the best that I can.

As I try to visualize birth, I'm intimidated but hopeful. I want to muster all my confidence and optimism and not allow myself to be crippled with doubt. But it's difficult not to worry. I usually thrive in high pressure circumstances. I pride myself in rising to the occasion. But this will be a situation unlike anything I've experienced! And my mom and husband will be there with me which is reassuring. I just would like for the fetus to keep cooking a bit longer. Even with my discomforts, 15 days early feels like 15 days too early.

I've begun to come to terms with how little control I actually have. Pregnancy has been a series of lessons in surrender (special thanks to wise mom friend, Hillary for that very apt phrase). For someone accustomed to relative control, it hasn't always been easy. There have been numerous peaks and more than a few emotional valleys. But I'm comforted by the knowledge that pregnancy is not an illness. It is not something terribly abnormal. Women have been doing this for centuries. They do it every day all over the world, on a continuum of both more and less privileged/fortunate circumstances than my own.

I have instructed Chris and my mom to remind me of a few truths during the tougher birth moments: 1. She has to come out no matter what. 2. Breathing through pain will bring oxygen to my tensing muscles. Gravity will help me if I let it. 3. And perhaps most importantly: however she emerges my main goal is healthy mom, healthy infant.

November 14, 2012

Week by week: 37

37 weeks

I am full term as of now. What a reassuring feeling! I'm glad the fetus is still cooking and I am hopeful that I'll go to week 40. My midwife checked me (by my request, as I was already getting the group B strep test, which is thankfully negative) and I am not dilated yet but 30% effaced. Despite these facts, Chris is skeptical that I'll make it to 40. This is in part because my practice contractions have begun to increase in frequency and intensify in discomfort. But according to my midwives and my Babycenter weekly email, both of these occurrences are normal. Of course delivering at any point after full term is also considered "normal."

My hospital bag is packed. I have selected "going home" attire for the baby that still needs to be washed. We need to install the car seat or at least the car seat base. Chris has begun assembling his hospital bag and I've already packed a toiletry case for him. The crib is assembled and the nursery room is coming along.

I reiterated with my students our contingency plan options. But I still need to draft an email that I lovingly refer to as the "doomsday device" which will allow me to easily inform my students if/when the contingency plan is no longer contingent. I also need to write up Speck instructions for Rachel in case my folks can't get to her right away.

I put forth a lot of energy and effort into cleaning the whole house last weekend in anticipation of a diaper party shower we threw as an excuse to see our friends prior to birth. It was our last house party before we become parents and Chris went all out with the food. People raved about it which was sweet and everyone was very kind and complimentary about my different shape. I was just glad to have an excuse to motivate me into that deep cleaning process. Although it would be great to do one more deep clean prior to week 40, I'm not sure there will be time. Above you can see my outfit. My hair was dry by the time guests arrived. :)

Pea in the Pod abstract rose print dress
Streets Ahead bow belt (that interestingly was just slightly too big prepregnancy)
Assets Mama tights by Spanx
Gucci wedges

November 13, 2012

Week by week: 36

36 weeks

I never got around to posting week 36 belly shots but they're not that dissimilar from week 37 (which will be up tomorrow). Even at my now even more frequent midwife appointments, where I was once measuring ahead slightly (around week 30) I am now measuring behind. Of course, fundal height is not a perfect science and can be shifted based on the fetal position at the time of measurement. My midwives are comfortable with any measurement that corresponds with a range of two weeks.

Things are trucking along. It's funny but I feel both more and less ready with every day that brings me closer to my due date. Sleeping comfort varies. Waking comfort varies too. Interestingly, on the days when I'm more active I feel less sore but I pay for it on the days that follow. Those are pretty uncomfortable. Bending over is unintentionally audible. It's harder than ever to put on socks or tights. I feel like my boobs appear small for the first time in my life, even though they're quite large. It's just juxtaposed with my belly that they are diminished in scale.

Overall, I am healthy feel so lucky for that.

Outfit details:
Orla Kiely for Uniqlo dress
Cece cardigan
Payless flats

November 3, 2012

Family Planning

As Chris and I prepare for the impending arrival of our little one, I also find myself relishing these final weeks and moments of pregnancy. We are literally on the precipice of HUGE change, that will be both wonderful and terrifying. I dream absurd and vivid things about birth. I lay awake and wonder about life with a child. I wonder also about how it will feel to no longer be pregnant. Will I miss feeling her move from the inside? Will I miss my large, hard belly? Will I miss the positive if unsolicited attention from strangers and acquaintances?

Sure, there are some physical discomforts that seem to grow as my body does and those I will not miss. I've grown a bit tired of being the default designated driver on nights when I still have the stamina to go out. I admit that I would love to have more than just sips of wine or any other alcoholic beverage. It would be nice to eat charcuterie and pate without guilt. And I already have raw oyster and sushi plans in the works.

But I imagine (as a consummate sap), that I will look back on these final days with deep fondness, nostalgia, and perhaps even a bit of envy for the time when things were so simple. When our plans and planning were still entirely within our control. When our sleep patterns were dictated largely by our whims. When it was easy to keep the house relatively clean and in order. When "we" meant just us two. I hope it isn't wrong to admit that in anticipating even the most exciting and positive change, it can be hard not to cling instinctively to what was already "known."

Chris and I have built such a happy life together and in my perpetual state of "too many feelings" I sometimes can't believe my good fortune in having him as my partner. Of course he's not perfect (and neither am I!) but we really suit each other. It feels fitting and poignant to share this with him. When I allow myself to dwell on it, my mind is blown by the notion that we've made what will become our new family member.*

Above you see us on our second wedding anniversary, wearing one of our wedding gifts. We kept meaning to wear these matching air brushed t-shirts to Kennywood (since wearing matching outfits is a grand Kennywood tradition that we've never actually shared) but it also made sense to debut them on our "cotton" anniversary. Although we weren't able to get photos in the same spot we did the last two years, we made the most of the day. It wasn't lost on me that it was our final wedding anniversary as just us two.

Our family planning brought us here. And I am both excited and nervous about what the future brings.

*My mind is also often blown by (mostly male) politicians playing political football with reproductive rights, especially when I reflect upon all the things the pregnant body has to do and all the discomforts that women can experience throughout this process. Rather than making me question my belief in reproductive rights, pregnancy has galvanized it. That some can flippantly suggest women carry unwanted, unplanned pregnancies to term with no say in the decision has become more baffling to me than ever.

October 31, 2012

Week by week: 35 (in costume)

35 weeks

Quick post this week... so behind right now. So much to do. Feeling harried and having more and more birth dreams that make me nervous she's going to arrive early. The indigestion and heartburn are omnipresent and my belly button feels really ready to pop even though it has yet to (knock on wood).

I feel like the fetus has no more room to move so her movements often... hurt. My back certainly hurts when I first get up to walk from a seated position.

I drafted my birth plan this week and need to pick up a few items for my hospital bag before I can feel ready to pack for that. I also need to spend some time organizing the nursery. Chris needs to assemble the crib but he's busy too.

Before I do anything else, I need to finish my conference paper because even though I am not attending my field's national conference (not allowed to fly at this point), the panel chair offered to present a summary on my behalf.

October 28, 2012

Pickles and Ice Cream: On Cravings


One question that I've been asked a lot has been with regard to food cravings. The stereotype of the hungry pregnant woman wanting odd or extreme combinations of flavors in large quantities is one that permeates our entertainment media. And when I reflect on my pregnancy thus far, it has had  moments of ringing very true.

Early on, one of the first things I wanted was broccoli rapini, grilled with garlic and lots of lemon. Chris was happy to oblige and we ate it as a side dish with many of our April dinners. Thankfully, the Italian market always keeps some on hand. I also wanted milkshakes. All the milkshakes in the land, ideally with some salty and sweet combination of flavors. Chris concocted an incredible Speculoos-themed one that I still daydream about.

In the first trimester, sometimes eating left me with a metallic taste that was unpleasant so I found myself gravitating toward lots of vinegar and citrus to neutralize or supersede that. And when I say citrus, I don't just mean oranges. Both pre- and during pregnancy, I have eaten my fair share of halved lemons and limes. I am a big fan of garnishes as snacks. Raw green peppers have also been very appealing to me, throughout this pregnancy. Salads with lots of vinegar and a tiny bit of oil hit the spot.

Cilantro. Basil. Ripe (in season) tomatoes. Aged balsamic. Watermelon.

Hummus. Eggplant. Kale. Dry Ricotta and other salty, hard cheeses.

My mom's chicken and dumplings (which I always crave anyway).

All of the above, please!

When berries came into season, I couldn't get enough of them (especially blueberries and black raspberries). Currently, I feel that way about apples (specifically winesaps). Also, I have been intensely craving ripe pomegranates and keep buying them before they're ripe, just in case I luck out and get one that is ready early.

Thus far this list makes me look like the healthiest fruit and veggie fiend on the planet. It's both misleading and incomplete! I love desserts and sweet treats. I was so excited to see the spread of cake and cookies at my showers. Although I adore chocolate, that craving has taken a back seat to my desire for cannolis, almond flavored cake, thumbprints, and pizzelles.

The other interesting thing about my cravings is an intense desire for all the pre-packaged foods I enjoyed as a child (when I could convince my mom to buy them, that is). I had a week late in my second trimester when I was DYING for an iced cherry pop tart. Although (other than ice cream) I tend to avoid the freezer section of my grocer, I've craved those cheap and sodium-rich party pizzas and Stouffers frozen vegetable lasagna that were meals my friends and I would make ourselves as adolescents, after school. I haven't indulged that urge because I fear the heartburn havoc that would surely result. But I've yearned for them, inexplicably.

Oreos. Goldfish Crackers. Laffy Taffy. BBQ chips. Plain Cheerios. Toaster waffles. All of these foods have given me pangs of want. I've avoided many of them by just avoiding their sections in the stores but I did cave on a few.

Orange juice and grapefruit juice, specifically tart or sour versions without any added sugar taste AMAZING to me and have since the beginning. I think in general, my senses are heightened so smell and taste are both better when something is good and worse when something is bad.

Lately, I've wanted curries, stews, cinnamon, and whoopie pies/gobs. But to be honest, none of these desires are out of the ordinary for me during the fall.

Oh and there's also pickles.  Chris makes my favorite ones. When we didn't have them on hand (because cucumbers weren't in season at the farmer's market until mid-summer), I tried a few store brands and was left craving his even more so than before.

That reminds me that I need to acknowledge my incredible good fortune, to have a partner who is such an avid lover of foods and home cooking. Although I try my best to contribute to our meal planning and executions, Chris's talents far exceed my own. And he has kept us both incredibly well fed during these months of random food wants. He's my favorite.

I'll be back with 35 week belly shots tomorrow or the next day!

October 23, 2012

Week by Week 34

34 weeks!

My belly button is still in (but barely). My stomach is constantly slathered in some sort of lotion, hoping to avoid stretch marks but not feeling optimistic. Sleeping has become more challenging with each day due to various aches and pains. Once I do sleep, I apparently snore (sorry Chris!). I bought a bra extender thingy from Target this week which helps make things more comfortable without my needing to buy non-nursing in between bras (since I don't know what size nursing bras I will need). I am looking into a belly binder for after birth cause I really would like to hold everything in place and encourage things to go back to "normal." I've been using my Target BE Band (generic Bella Band) as a belly support device cause it feels so strained.

We've finally begun getting the nursery ready although it is still very far from organized. We managed to get furniture out of there and now it is full of the embarrassment of riches from baby shower gifts (still in boxes/new with tags/unwashed and not ready). I also have to clean out the armoire that is going to be baby's closet/storage. So much to do and so little time!

I did manage to wrap the article manuscript I wanted to send off to be considered for publication so that my resume remains active. I have a conference paper to wrap up (even though I can't physically attend the conference because I won't be allowed to fly by then) and more writing and diss. revision. Not to mention finishing my semester with my students. I hope the fetus remembers the bargain we made about how she needs to keep cooking until at least the day after her due date!

Lots more to talk about in terms of symptoms, cravings, and the amazingly overwhelming and wonderful experience that is being surrounded by all the women who I love and who have known me my whole life (aka my baby showers). I'll try to be back later in the week but my priorities are such that my recreational writing time is dedicated to the zillion more thank you notes I have to write (which I really enjoy doing even though they take a great deal of time because I toil over how to express my gratitude in a way that doesn't sound canned or insincere).

Outfit details:
Bailey 44 top from Nordstrom Rack (non-maternity)
Gap "Always Skinny" Maternity Cords in green
Captoe flats with extra footbed cushion from Payless

October 14, 2012

Week by week: 33

33 weeks

This weekend I had the first of my baby showers and I feel so overwhelmed with love and support. It was a beautiful time being surrounded by wise women and girls of all ages. My dear friend China even came into town to attend. I was so so happy to see her and hug her and catch up. I am left yet again feeling really lucky in general.

Physically, things are good overall but my stomach is very... strained. My heartburn is very pervasive. My back occasionally hurts. I am told all of this is normal. My midwife appointments are now every two weeks and last Thursday's check up was reassuring. Measuring on track, strong fetal heartbeat, etc. I have begun wondering if my face looks different. I kind of see differences when I look at pre- and during-pregnancy photos but I wonder if that is due to weight or something else? There's that terrible, misogynistic old wives tale about how fetal girls "steal your beauty" and as absurd as I know that sounds, I have to wonder if pregnancy does change the shape and composition of a face? Especially since so many other parts of the body change, beyond just the belly. I also realize the changes I see in my face likely relate to being tired and taking less careful time to take outfit photos.

Some days I also feel really frustrated by what I see on the scale. I know that the gains I've made in the last 33 weeks are all for good reason but it can be difficult not to think negatively about that aspect of pregnancy. After all, I inhabit a weight-obsessed culture! Despite that, my body image is usually pretty positive and unconnected with weight. I don't typically dwell on the numbers on tags or scales. I need to harness that approach again while acknowledging that I'm doing the best that I can to eat well and to avoid being entirely sedentary.

Anyway, I can't believe how time has flown by. I have so much to do! I hope the fetus keeps cooking as planned because I need every minute of time to work and prepare.

Outfit Details:
Three Seasons Maternity dress from Amazon (unfortunately this seems to no longer be half off like it was when I bought it)
Gap tights (pulled low cause they're not maternity)
Nine West pumps

October 7, 2012

Week by Week: 32

32 Weeks

I'm getting bigger every day. My stomach skin aches because it is so strained. I've been dutifully lathering myself with cocoa butter and jojoba oil, hoping to stave off the inevitable. I don't yet have marks but I envision them in my future. As I feel the fetus wiggle around, I imagine that she's trying to make even more room. It's hard to fathom my stomach growing larger but I know it must. And I know it will be worth it.

It's fun to compare the above with my first belly photos on this blog (which were taken at around 15 weeks) cause I was wearing the same top.

Pants with real buttons! I remember you. 

32 week outfit Details:
Orla Kiely for Uniqlo sailboat tshirt
Gap Maternity Cords 
Payless captoe flats (which have extra cushy padding and are sooooo comfy!! Thanks mom, for treating me to some larger interim footwear!!)

October 6, 2012

Nordstrom Maternity is back!

At least on their website, Nordstrom has begun stocking maternity clothing again. This is great news for fans of their price match policy, stellar return time frame, and excellent customer service! Above are some of my favorites currently in stock. Of course, the prices are a bit high. After all, it IS Nordstrom. But they have sales just like everyone else and the dresses they've chosen to stock would at the very least make lovely baby shower/special occasion dresses if you're feeling eager to splurge on one special garment.

October 3, 2012

The pregnant body image

Pregnancy is a liminal space of in-between. The life changes resultant from pregnancy are often described as "to be." And the language of pregnancy is often anticipatory and futuristic. Weekly emails describe my "baby" as though it exists autonomously and independent from me. And in a lot of ways, I feel abstracted from the process of its development. Instead I feel as though I must relinquish control to instinct and biology. My maternal body is doing its thing without conscious effort on my part (beyond some minor behavioral changes). So on some level, projecting "personhood" is to be expected, despite my own discomfort with such a notion.

The  rhetoric of personhood has led directly and indirectly to the erosion of women's reproductive rights in states around the country. So as a feminist, I feel reluctant especially to lend it credence. From an academic perspective it is interesting to notice how the descriptions of pregnancy's effects on the maternal body/person are near the end of the email, secondary and removed from the fetus rather than integrated across its narratives of development. In the discourse of pregnancy, these changes are framed as "side" effects, rather than simply "effects."

Recently, I revisited Emily Martin's canonical feminist text, The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction and was reminded of the complicated history of (Western) medicine when it comes to treating women's bodies. In some ways, this history permeates how we understand and discuss pregnancy in broader American culture. And I've been trying to put that into context with my own experience of being pregnant.

So much of the discourse of pregnancy is futuristic and rooted in anticipating changes that are beyond one's control, but my pregnant body and mind inhabit the present. The pregnant body does remarkable things to foster and maintain a hospitable environment in which a fetus can develop (and an embryo and blastocyst, before that). The process is incredibly integrated and surprisingly efficient. I'm already grateful for the visceral and intellectual educations of this experience.

But at times it has been challenging to surrender those comforting feelings of control and put my trust in what is physiologically intuitive. Some days I feel alienated from an increasingly unfamiliar and occasionally uncomfortable, pained body. Related, I no longer enjoy the same amount of control in announcing my pregnancy to the outside world. My body speaks for me. And with the social and moral panic over pregnant bodies (i.e. so many opportunities to be policed and judged), it can also be incredibly disempowering to feel subordinate to what is an undeniably miraculous physiological process.

When you're experiencing so much change as you inhabit what was once a familiar body it can be tough to make sense of all the new normals. Of course, I am so thrilled to be pregnant and still find a great deal of novelty in feeling fetal movement which makes me even more excited and anticipatory. But this experience hasn't been without its own body image issues and transition pains.

September 30, 2012

Week by Week: 31

31 weeks

This week, I've tried to accept that my mobility is increasingly compromised by pregnancy. I took some breaks while teaching to sit down. Lecturing from a stool is unfamiliar terrain for me, as someone who likes to move around the classroom freely. But I was able to still gesture and move a bit while seated. I've found that the tricky part is getting up and down from the stool or a seated position, gracefully. Grace has never been my strong suit but right now I feel especially ungraceful. And with the occasional inadvertent sounds I make while moving, I feel self-conscious.

I also decided that it is ok if I occasionally need to take an elevator rather than the stairs, especially while lugging my course materials. It took me a while to get to this point but I become short of breath more readily and don't want to show up to class huffing and puffing.

I also advocated for my comfort at the Little Italy Days festival by letting friends and loved ones know when/if I needed to take a rest. This is all new for me, as a fairly prideful person who doesn't like being fussed over or being a bother. I hate disrupting a social setting to say to Chris that I need to find a place to take a load off. But he understands and so does everyone else. In terms of stamina I have to acknowledge that my body has changed. It's carrying a lot more weight than usual and its center of gravity is completely off. Even when I am minding my posture to save myself from back pain, it is hard not to arch due to the weight of my belly. Also, it's impossible to be conscious of it all the time.

Anyway, my mom got to feel the fetus move and kick yesterday which was thrilling for us both. We met up to shop and hang for her birthday. I took her to lunch but she generously treated me by buying me some comfy shoes and a cute dress. She also bought so many clothes and odds and ends for the baby. Can a fetus be spoiled? :)

I hope my dad will be able to feel her kick tonight at my mom's and Katie's birthday dinner! I tried on the above dress this afternoon because I knew it would really showcase the belly. Admittedly, I didn't wear it anywhere yet.

Outfit Details:
Bailey 44 Tiered Stripes dress from Anthro
Zanotti flats

September 23, 2012

Week by week: 30

30 weeks

Gah time is flying! I have so much to do. So much to plan. So much to finish. So much to organize. But I also am excited to meet this little one who has been moshing and poking and prodding me from the inside for so long.

I had a few appointments on Friday, including an ultrasound that was supposed to have a 3d component. Sadly (though not truly sad, and in fact good!) the fetus is positioned head down and low enough in my pelvis that she was basically not 3d-photographable. The tech and the OB even considered prodding and pushing me from the outside to urge her to move into a better spot. But she's comfy down there and frankly, I'd rather her get used to being in a good spot for birth than get an unnecessary preview of her face. We did learn that she already has hair! And although I'm measuring right on track according to my midwife who checked my fundal height, from the ultrasound she is measuring to be in the upper range of percentiles. I blame her dad who has long limbs. Because of her position, they couldn't truly measure her because of where her head was, so they looked at the femur and belly to calculate an estimation (that the OB said is not very accurate, even if it is what they use). Anyway, it was a long but exciting day and everything continues to look healthy and good.

I began a new series on Consume or Consumed about teaching college students while pregnant. Check it out!

Outfit details:
Target sweater (gift from my mom)
Gap maternity t-shirt underneath
Gap maternity jeans
ChloƩ flats

September 16, 2012

Week by week: 29

29 weeks

Chris and I attended day two of our condensed Lamaze class at Magee and much like the first week, it was really wonderful. We practiced positions, slow breathing through contractions, and spontaneous pushing. We went on a hospital tour so I feel much more able to visualize my birth setting. And I even felt like we began to make friends with other couples. If there was one more class meeting I know we would have walked out of there with email addresses. Sadly, there isn't. But I did feel a strong bond with the couples in the class and with the instructor. More than anything else, I felt more bonded to Chris. I know from this experience that he is better equipped to be the supportive, confident, and attentive birth partner that he wants to be.

I cannot say enough great things about the instructor that we had for the class. I cried a little when it was time to say goodbye to her because I felt so much gratitude over the knowledge she imparted and the confidence that comes with it. She works as a volunteer doula in the hospital sporadically and I am now hoping the stars align for her to be on the floor during my birth. We'll see.

Since learning I was pregnant, it has been difficult to envision what birth will be like since so many variables are unknowns and so many birth stories differ. But talking to my parents about birth has helped me a lot. Together they share so many memories and it is interesting to see who remembers what with more vivid detail. Last night my mom remembered that my dad's mother was tearing up when they were leaving for the hospital to have me, which was a pretty quick birth, especially for a first time mom! She said that she realized she was in first stage labor around 11pm, they left for the hospital around 2am, and I was born at 8:06 am. Although I've always felt close with my parents, sharing the process of becoming a parent with them and having them retell stories about pregnancy, birth, and early family life has been really incredible. 

Today I blew up my exercise/birth ball and plan to try to get some writing done while sitting on it. I also am setting a goal for Chris and I to practice at least two positions through timed, simulated contractions per day. If we only manage to do it every other day, that is ok too. I aim to do two per practice session so that we can also practice the transition from one position to the next. Most of my favorite practice positions involved the birth ball so I am glad to have it for our preparation.

Outfit details:
Maternal America dress (from Amazon clearance)
Wolford tights (which incidentally, are quite comfortable with a belly!)
Guiseppi Zanotti flats
Amber pendant necklace from St. Lucia (gift from Chris)

September 13, 2012

On exceptionalism and test anxieties

Especially for first time moms-to-be, a wanted pregnancy can still be fraught with worry and anxiety. Many of the wise "been there, done that" moms in my life have tried their best to comfort me with the reminder that statistics are usually in one's favor and to trust in the pregnant body. But in so many ways the experience of being pregnant has been one lesson in surrender after another. Lacking agency in determining so many of the outcomes can leave a person feeling disempowered and fearful. And often, prenatal tests can stimulate as much concern as they do relief.

The wealth of information available online can become another venue through which to stir anxieties. Dr. Google may have some helpful answers, (and of course I am grateful to live in this age of information) but not all information is created equal. And the ability to work oneself into a nervous mess is almost too easy now.

One of the subjects I teach about in a few of my courses concerns American ideology. And one powerful, shaping notion that permeates American culture is "exceptionalism." Exceptionalism is a (conscious or unconscious) belief in one's uniqueness and individuality... that you will be the exception to the rule.* For example, the belief that statistically you will beat the odds and ascend in socio-economic status through a combination of hard work and good luck is both a familiar narrative found in the stories we tell and retell, and for many Americans, a powerful motivating force in life.

There's a fantastic book titled, A Nation of Outsiders that unpacks this notion... the idea that we prop up rebel "outsiders" and/or believe ourselves to be "outside" of the crowd or even perhaps above the statistics. This might seem like a tangent, but I'm bringing it up because exceptionalism isn't always positive or motivating. It can also encourage irrational feelings that venture toward "worst case scenario" territories. And because pregnancy is at once entirely normal and yet completely miraculous, it can be easy to believe that "despite all odds" things might go very wrong. That statistics will not be in your favor. That in fact, yours will be the cautionary tale... Dr. Google corroborates this irrationality, as there are infinite spaces through which to read cautionary tale after cautionary tale, giving an impression that such tales aren't so exceptional after all.

But this isn't all bad either... when faced with adversity during pregnancy, finding commiseration and empathetic comfort is that much easier thanks to the wealth of crowd sourced information and virtual community support. This would be impossible without Dr. Google.

All of this is my long-winded way of saying that I know my worries are normal. My fears might become amplified because of all the available information. I might fear that I will be the exception to the rule. But the odds are in my favor (as they are in the overwhelming majority of individual circumstances) and that is what I strive to make my takeaway.

My partner and I decided to have a number of prenatal tests done throughout my pregnancy. We wanted all the information available to us at every turn. While all signs have pointed to a healthy, normal pregnancy with appropriate embryonic and fetal development, that doesn't mean that there is never any worry. I trust science. I trust my healthcare providers. And I am learning with every day and every kick that I feel to trust my body. I trust it to continue to do what it needs to do. After all, it has so far.

So far, so good.

*Actually, it's a bit more complex than that but for the purposes of this post my above definition is sufficient.

September 9, 2012

Birth Class and Week by week: 28

Week 28

Holy cow I'm in my third trimester! I'm both terrified and excited that things are moving along so fast. I feel good, although my movements are definitely slower out of necessity. They're also occasionally more audible than I intend (as in I make funny guttural sounds if I am getting up from the floor or something... lol). My heartburn has worsened and I seem to have the same tiny bladder issues I had during the first trimester. My stomach fills up faster than before, too.

Yesterday, Chris and I began a condensed Lamaze class at our hospital (Magee Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh) and it was so wonderful. I know a lot of people remark that reading books will offer the same impact of taking a class but that seemed less desirable to me. Although I have been reading about pregnancy and birth avidly, I still wanted to take a class. Reading is often solitary and the experience of taking a class is shared. Plus, as phd candidates, Chris and I are no strangers to schooling. We basically thrive in a classroom environment. So for us, it only made sense to sign up for something. My insurance will cover half of the class cost but even if it didn't, I view it as a good investment in memory-making.

32 years later, my parents still talk about the birth class they took when they were pregnant with their first born (me). They made lasting friendships from it. Sadly, the condensed class sessions that fit our work schedules will be less likely to yield much in the way of bonding with other couples. But I enjoy the metaphoric connection I share with the people in the room, even if we don't get to know each other during our short time together.

Also, the instructor is fantastic and incredibly engaging. I had no problem staying alert the entire day, listening to her explain things, share anecdotes, offer clever metaphors, and demonstrate with course materials. I even found myself tearing up at moments during which she described with enthusiasm and sincerity the remarkable things that occur in the pregnant body. I do have extra feelings right now thanks to all the hormones but in general, I am moved by the notion that my body is doing things that are miraculous, natural, and also in so many ways, entirely mundane. I can't wait for our next class!

I'm curious about the experiences of others in this regard. Did you take a birthing class? Our instructor said around 20% or less of pregnant women take classes. I don't have a lot of friends who have had children so I can't do any informal social polls. But I imagine that Dr. Google in conjunction with youtube videos (and traditional books) have created an environment of learning in which taking birth classes seem less necessary than ever before? Or perhaps the stats have always been low due to the time and money involved in enrolling?

Outfit details:
Ancient Myths maxi skirt from Anthropologie (stoked this still fits for now)
Banana Republic tee
Havaniana flip flops

September 5, 2012

On timing

at Chris's brother's graduation (week 22)

One of the questions asked by closer friends (who are still deciding whether kids will be in the scope of their lives) has been with regard to "timing." Above everything else, the question of timing plagued us most in the process of our own family planning. Chris and I agreed a long time ago that we'd like to have children "someday." Barring the potential for fertility challenges, that agreement made our discussion as a couple less about "if" and more about "when." While the changes resultant from this decision remained firmly in the realm of the abstract, it was easy to speak of the future with confidence. "When we have a family... When you're a mom/dad... etc. etc."

This hypothetical notion of "when" orbited our lives over the last few years without any definitive reason to set deadlines or rush. "When" continued to feel slightly out of immediate reach and therefore, still a hypothetical idea rather than a reality. Hypotheticals brim with possibility and idealized future projections. They are wonderful in that regard. Realities can bring with them fears over uncontrollables and unknowns. Now, rather than speaking of "when" I become a mother with no sense of self-consciousness, I feel pangs of performance anxiety over "how" to be a mother.

As I enter my third trimester of a very wanted pregnancy, I am still not certain that the timing question was answered "correctly." I don't know that there are perfect answers to that question, particularly once a pregnancy (that has been determined to be wanted) progresses. Hypotheticals morph into imminents that are accepted with fewer theories and philosophies. Change becomes your new normal, out of necessity. But this type of acceptance isn't without its own transition pains.

Not so long ago, I was on the other end of this conversation. I asked an experienced and wise friend about the question of timing. She assured me as she snuggled her own little one that although there is never a "perfect" time, it always becomes the "right" time to have your baby. I have held onto that notion since it was articulated to me. And to this day it brings me great comfort. A wanted, healthy pregnancy and a wanted child are life circumstances around which variables seem to adapt and make room with little fanfare.

As I mentioned above, when it comes to my pregnancy I am not certain of the "perfection" of my own life's timing. I don't feel regret about the shape of things to come and I don't doubt the capacity for the love that already fills our household to grow exponentially upon the arrival of our little one. I just also happen to believe that we could have had incredibly happy, fulfilled lives as a duo. Our lives were and are very full. And on some level, the biggest barrier to our "when" was in risking the significant disruption of circumstances that have been so good for so long. But this is a decision we made, on which we were lucky enough to be able to follow through. I imagine once the dust from these major transitions settles I will think back to the anxiety I felt over both "when" and "how" with some sense of rear view amusement.

Logistically, there were a few puzzle pieces we wanted to have in place, in advance of our "when." 

We weighed our personal financial circumstances, our ages, our time together thus far, our access to health care coverage, my options for maternity leave, child care arrangements, the proximity of our families right now, our housing situation, our vehicle situation, our job situations, our life insurance policies, our desires/hopes/fears,... I could go on.

Even with all of our forethought, who can say whether the timing is perfect to go from 2 to 3? I don't know that being "perfect" matters to us as much as it used to. And something about that makes it feel really right.

September 4, 2012

Pregnancy Hair and Drugstore Thrills

Like many women, in my life I have spent exorbitant amounts of money on hair products. On Consume or Consumed, I've written about my hair and how it has taken time to accept its natural waves and texture when the current gold standard for hair seems to be as straight as a pencil. But at this point I have grown to love its curl potential. Being pregnant has made my hair thicker and grow faster, but until recently my roots were a mess. I finally got a cut and color which helped immensely. But the processing left my hair dry, which was already an issue thanks to other drying summertime activities. When I was offered the opportunity to review Dove Intensive Repair Daily Treatment Conditioner, I was happy to give it a try.

The instructions were simple: To lather it into hair after shampooing, and leave it on for 60 seconds. I combed it through and put it up with a clip while I finished grooming. The smell was refreshing and feminine, without being cloying or overly floral. And the conditioner itself was thick and substantial. My hair felt soft and looked shiny afterwards.

I have to be honest. I am not a "wash your hair every night" kind of person. It is too drying. And my problem with some deep conditioners is that they weigh down the volume at my roots making it so I have to wash my hair sooner than usual. This conditioner did not weigh me down, despite its richness. It rinsed well and afterwards the curl pattern was not disrupted. I was even so bold as to let it air dry, rather than hair drying the roots for volume. My hair feels softer and because of the cut and color, looks better than it has in months. I am happy to put this drugstore thrill into my rotation of hair products.

Promotion prompt: Do you condition your hair every day?

Below the cut is info on how to get $1.50 off coupon as well as a giveaway opportunity that readers can enter by answering the above question via BlogHer.

September 1, 2012

Week by Week: 27


So this is the last week of my second trimester and I cannot believe how the time has flown. I have so much more to do before birth and feelings of panic are beginning to hit me.

This week I started back to school and it was wild to be in the classroom with a visible bump. It felt so bizarre to have to explain the contingency plan options to my young adult students, many of who were very adorable and kind in their reactions to my news. I also noticed for the first time that if I watch my stomach while the fetus is moshing (cause it seems like that's what she does in there), I can SEE IT FROM THE OUTSIDE! So weird. Chris caught it too. It makes me giddy to see it bouncing around, making room.

This weekend, Chris and I were scheduled to be in New Orleans for a conference and to have one last out of town trip before I become too pregnant to fly safely. It promised to be a babymoon of sorts. Sadly, the conference was canceled and we wound up staying in town. Although I am disappointed to miss out on any opportunity to travel (especially to a place I love so much), I am grateful to not burden further the city of New Orleans as it cleans up the mess left by Hurricane Isaac. My thoughts are with the Gulf Coast state residents as they recover and rebuild.

We are making the best of things by spending time together at home. Yesterday, Chris brightened our morning with French pastries from La Gourmandine. After doing some work from home, we went to the gym together where I actually used the elliptical for the first time in at least a month! (I had been taking it easy due to some sciata and/or pelvic girdle pain).  It felt good to be active even though I did tone down my intensity, just in case. We rounded out the night with dinner reservations at Cure in Lawrenceville. The meal was delicious and fun. It made for an excellent consolation for the reservation we couldn't keep at Herbsaint. The rest of the weekend will be spent catching up with family so that will be great. And I'm sure we'll make it back to New Orleans, soon enough. The little one will surely love its sights and sounds.

Outfit details:
Anthropologie's Sideways Seascape Tee
Gap Maternity jeans
Coach flats

August 26, 2012

Week by week: 26

Week 26

Here you can see me trying on one of the designer maternity dresses I bought on clearance (and with a 20% off coupon) from Amazon, in anticipation of needing professorial options for the fall classroom. I'll be doing a lengthy review of the brands and garments eventually. But in the meanwhile, here is the state of my stomach at week 26... the second trimester homestretch!

Outfit details:
Everly Grey Kaylee Maternity Dress (on sale!) (available in the above print or solid crimson)*
Vintage Saks Fifth Avenue house brand pumps

*Amazon clothing tip: I signed up for clothing emails and was sent a unique, one-time-use, 20% off coupon for clothes. You have to use the code within 30 days but with free shipping and free returns the risk seemed low enough to make an order of a few pretty things. Some of it is going back but I am keeping the above.

August 24, 2012

Pregnancy FAQ

The news of pregnancy provokes a lot of questions from many corners of one's social world. I figured for my own archival purposes I would catalog some of the details in this blog.*

Are you excited? 
Very! This is a wanted and planned life experience for both my partner and myself.

How are you feeling?
It varies. Overall, I've been very fortunate to have a relatively low-symptom pregnancy. Occasional dizzy spells during my first trimester were solved through increased protein intake and through the body just adjusting to all the new hormones and what not. In my second trimester I have had spates of sciatic nerve pain and rhinitis that are normal if not entirely comfortable. I miss sleeping on my back and I REALLY miss sleeping on my stomach. I miss being able to work out normally (the nerve pain seemed exacerbated by the elliptical so I am swimming, taking walks, stretching, and using light free weights). But I usually feel very good. I often feel very hungry. I sometimes feel really isolated.

Don't get me wrong. I have great friends and lots of support from family. I am incredibly lucky to be pregnant when I want to be. I have health benefits that cover my prenatal care and a job that offers me a generous leave. But I still have hard days during which I feel alienated from my "old" life (not that things are that different yet). I sometimes wish that I had a local and currently-pregnant pal for venting and empathetic purposes. The isolating aspects of pregnancy can be emotionally challenging for sure. Relatedly, I've noticed that I do have more emotional peaks and valleys than usual. Some seem to correspond with expected changes/developments happening. I will admit that I don't particularly enjoy feeling like my body is not my own. Trusting in my body and accepting that it is largely beyond my control during this time presents its own intellectual challenges. But I have adjusted to most of the "new normals" of this circumstance and cannot help but feel optimistic and enthused about what all these changes will eventually produce.

When are you due? What will this mean for your career?
December. It times out nicely with the end of my term. I will work up until my due date, regardless of when I give birth in order to finish the semester for my students. If necessary I am able to have someone proctor final exams for me. I can do my grading remotely and if I have to, I can Skype into class. Although academia can be somewhat unfriendly to women starting families while they're also on the tenure track, I made this choice hoping and anticipating that my workplace and my colleagues would be supportive. They have been and for that I am both grateful and lucky. I will have the Spring term off from teaching and most of my service responsibilities. Following spring is the summer, which is a flexible time in general for my schedule. I will not be taking any unpaid time off because it is not financially sensible for my family.

Regarding my research agenda, I am working diligently to wrap an article manuscript, a conference paper (that I will develop into an additional article for submission soon after), and most importantly my dissertation before I deliver. I have a few boiler plate grant proposals that are ready to be submitted when the right opportunities present themselves. It is perhaps unrealistic but I don't intend to take the spring term off from research. Academics typically have multiple projects that are in various stages of development, able to be picked up and put down as needed. Although I expect my pace will slow, especially in those early days of motherhood, I also need to continue to be productive. My institution does allow new parents to stop the tenure clock for a year but that doesn't mean I want to have gaps in my CV.

What are you having? What do you want to have?
On July 9th, I had my level II ultrasound, during which we learned the sex (it's a girl) but more importantly, we learned that everything is developing accordingly, organs are in place, etc.  More than anything, Chris and I want a healthy child.

On one particularly unremarkable day, Chris said to me that "the perfect family is the family you have." I agree with him and believe that life's expectations and goals adapt to the family you have, both in spite of and because of its component parts. (It goes without saying but, he's seriously such a good dude.)

When did you find out you were pregnant?
I found out very early into the pregnancy because I kept a lot of cyclical data and because of the technology of today's early detection tests.  The day I found out, I wore this ensemble to campus (though the post date is weeks from when I wore it). I remembered thinking to myself that when I eventually blogged the outfit, I should title the entry "Nothing can change the shape of things to come," to reference quietly my changing body through one of my favorite (overly covered) songs. (It has the best one note solo of all time!!).

My parents react to the news. And it sinks in.
The progression from happy to OMG OMG SO HAPPY made my heart grow three sizes.

When/How did you tell your families? 
We told our families over the Easter holiday. I thought about telling them around my birthday but decided Easter gave us a bit more time to ensure things were sticking. We only told immediate family and a tiny handful of close friends until around 12 weeks, after which we had an ultrasound to confirm viability and what not. 

We told Chris's parents with greeting cards (did you know they make "we're expecting!" ones?). We told my parents through an Easter gift we gave to my father. He is a musician who teaches guitar so I purchased a book of guitar tab lullabies and inscribed it to request he, "brush up for December in anticipation of the arrival of our newest family member." It took him a few seconds before the inscription's meaning made sense. (As an aside, one of my biggest regrets was not videoing their reactions. It is a moment I'll always remember and my camera has a video function. At least I got the  reaction shots!).

What were you asked the most during pregnancy? Other than the names question, I think this covers what I've been asked the most.

*I am also keeping a private paper journal at Chris's thoughtful suggestion. One of his birthday gifts to me (which I don't believe I ever shared on Consume or Consumed because most of this year's gifts were family/pregnancy themed) was a purple, leather-bound, paper journal. He knows I am a lover of information and a closet historian. And regardless of whether this pregnancy is 'one of one' or 'one of a few,' details on my symptoms, my appointments, and my general state of mind are worth cataloging to me. Who knows? Some day one of our children might want to read it. I know I would have loved to read my mother's pregnancy journal if she had kept one. I still enjoy the extremely detailed baby book she kept for me as a child.

August 18, 2012

Week by week: 25

25 weeks

Not only is pregnancy flying by, but my summer is almost over. The fall term is about to begin and I will soon find myself in the classroom, twice weekly. I am going through my closet (slowly), trying on all those things that were either a little loose pre-pregnancy, or bought to be shapeless, unstretchy, and tent-like, with the unspoken assumption that I could also wear them once pregnant. How foolish I was to think that a little extra waist room meant an already knee length or shorter dress would work with a dress-shortening bump! Maybe when it is tights season I can revisit a few pieces, but the majority of my pre-pregnancy wardrobe will be too short or too small for the third trimester.

Speaking of, I'd love some maternity tights recommendations. I see that my hosiery go-to, Spanx doesn't make one unless you count Assets. I like super opaque and completely unshiny. Can anyone speak to the qualities of the Assets version?

Outfit details:
Vintage Diane von Furstenburg dress (two sizes above my pre-pregnancy DVF wrap size) (similar here)
Volatile pumps from Zappos (old and now too tight in the foot bed... how are my feet so wide? They aren't swollen! Just annoyingly wide... lousy relaxin!)

August 17, 2012

Nine Years

Photo thanks to Tien

Has it really been that long? Has it only been that long? I find myself thinking both things today, on this date we count as the one when "we" began.

Each year, it somehow gets even better to be a "we." It's amazing that you can feel so at home with someone that has known you for less than a third of your life. But he is home to me (especially if you define it as "where the heart is"...). He is a part of my family. He is my partner in life and in love. I can't wait to see him be a dad.

We've grown up a lot during the course of our relationship, but most of all we've grown together. And that is remarkable. Our ninth is poised to be another big year and I can't wait!

The pregnant, professorial body

Old Navy, Everly Grey, Asos, A Pea in the Pod

Not unlike the pregnant body, a professorial body (particularly, a female one) can become the subject of scrutiny and attention, particularly from students. It is the knowledge of this that makes me more than just a little nervous about returning to the classroom with a visible bump. When I wrapped up my spring term, I was in my first trimester and not showing at all. It was an easy secret to mask because my body made no announcements on my behalf.

Now, that is no longer the case. My body might not be recognizable immediately as "pregnant" to strangers (though I'm sure my unconscious habit of resting a hand on my stomach might offer a clue), but on a smaller liberal arts campus it has changed enough to yield speculation.

Because of when my due date falls, I will make sure to include contingency plans in my syllabi which will announce to students my "condition" immediately. On our first day of class I will discuss options with them and hope to keep things as focused and on-task as possible.

But I am also a little concerned about the physical reality of being in front of a classroom while very pregnant. I am usually animated and mobile. I take my own mobility and ease of movement for granted. I hope I am still able to be as dynamic in movement as I have been in semesters previous. I also want to give myself the space to sit down, particularly in my longer once-a-week course. It is a smaller section that I plan to hold in seminar format so that shouldn't be a big problem.

Above is a back to school maternity wish list I compiled for Consume or Consumed. It includes mostly solids so I can repeat easily and often. The clothing aspect is another component of this that has me feeling timid. Hopefully between what I already have and a few key pieces (like maternity tights) I will be ok.