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.

August 14, 2012

Registry Anxieties

Pottery Barn Kids Brooklyn Crib Bedding
Picking out baby things for someone I've not yet met is challenging. Will she like swings? Will she like being worn? Will she like being swaddled? All of these questions remain unknowns until she arrives and we get to know her.

The very dense and lengthy registry checklists offered by major retailers seem to inflate the amount of gear they claim you will "need." But it is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by this new consumer realm. Sections of stores that never mattered to me suddenly matter. Sale racks that I would have previously ignored get at least a once-over. Predicting clothing sizes as they correspond with seasons is a gamble but some of the end of summer clearances have been too steep to skip. And the plethora of information regarding products is both helpful and annoying. How much trust do I place in reviews? And how much time do I invest in researching things like mattresses, strollers, and cribs?

I do know that I fell in love with the above pictured bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. It is so pretty that I would use it if it existed for adult beds! And when I compared the quality and price with the sets I saw at Babies R Us and the like, there was really no contest. If only the other big product decisions were as fun to make!

August 11, 2012

Week by Week: 24


My belly has definitely popped since previous posts. I also have begun to break in my maternity jeans from a previous Gap sale (fyi, friends and family is this weekend!). I love the shape of these jeans. I just need to get my hands on some similarly slim-legged maternity cords and I will feel more set for fall.

Outfit details:
Anthropologie's Slanted Layers top (which I kind of want in every color cause it really leaves a lot of room to grow- so stretchy!)
Gap 1969 cropped maternity jeans (not so cropped on a shorty!)
Coach flats

August 9, 2012

Stuff the dad-to-be says...

Since I got my first positive pregnancy test, Chris (with his impressive appetite) has joked that now we're both "eating for two." He loves to say this to everyone who will listen. He also enjoys commenting that "we're pregnant," whenever I talk to him about my physical discomforts or something that I used to be able to do easily that I can't really do right now. "Well, we ARE pregnant!" The other day when I noticed that my gym clothes (you know, the kind made out of only stretchy material) were too snug to wear, he exclaimed with great sarcasm, "OH NO! Did someone get you pregnant?!" He's great at lightening the mood in that way. He's a jokester and I think he will be both an excellent but also profoundly FUN dad. One thing he has said (jokingly) that I'm less amused by is that (because of my status as default designated driver) he can "drink for two." Of course, he hasn't done that and is a very responsible and moderate person when it comes to alcohol, but the statement annoys me. Mostly because it has been hard to not be able to have delicious, chilled cocktails during this summer's hottest days.

My favorite thing he said recently occurred during a "tummy time" session, during which he says hello to the fetus (who can hear our voices and other outside noises... so cool!). During our tummy times, he puts his hands on my belly to try to feel movements. Last night, for the first time he was able to feel it kick after a few weeks of tummy time comprising of: "did you feel that?!" "no..." "how about that?" "I'm not sure... I don't think so?" etc.!

I had my hand on top of Chris's hand and the kick was so big that I could feel it radiate through his palm. I said, "did you feel that?!" He said, "Was that a kick? It felt like it came from your stomach." "Uhh.. yes, you see there is a fetus currently in there and that movement you just felt was it!" We both had a good laugh and he was excited to finally be able to say he felt it move.

August 7, 2012

Symptom roundup and how I've coped

During my pregnancy, I have spent a lot of moments feeling overcome by... the moments (both happy and sad). Above I'm crying just a little while Chris photographs me with a postcard I was sending to my parents during my birthday breakfast. We were in an Italian cafe in San Diego and I was thinking about how special it was to be someplace new for a birthday. And how special it was to be pregnant (while wanting to be pregnant) on my birthday. You can see the redness in my face. The latte was incidentally the last (delicious) coffee I had during my first trimester. I finished the final foamy sip and felt a wave of dizziness that led me to abstain from caffeine for a few months. Not pictured is the delicious cannoli, complete with lit birthday candle.

I posted earlier about how this pregnancy has been relatively easy going. While that is certainly the case, that doesn't mean I have been completely symptom-less. Some things I didn't expect while expecting cropped up along the way.

Dizziness: Around week 6 or so, I noticed that I would have dizzy spells, especially in the morning. I cut coffee out completely since a lot of my morning routine seemed to correspond with coffee. I also was instructed by my midwife to really up my protein intake. I ate eggs and/or greek yogurt every day to ensure I was getting enough protein to help my body cope with the hormonal changes occurring. Eventually I realized the iron in my prenatal was exacerbating my issues so I switched to one without iron for a little while (focusing on iron rich foods, instead).

Dizziness that evolved into nausea: I really only had this a few times and thankfully the nausea was never productive (if you know what I mean). I coped by never allowing my stomach to bottom out in terms of hunger. I also took a b6 supplement in addition to my prenatal. I also kept Luna Bars and Preggy Pop Drops (in sour formula) with me at all times. On some evenings, I took half a Unisom as a preventative measure. In Canada, there is a prescription that combines the active ingredient of Unisom (regular, not extra strength or whatever) with B6. It is said to really help stave off nausea.

Indigestion: One of my earliest symptoms involved heartburn and indigestion. Zantac and I became best buds (my midwife ok'd 150mg 2/daily but I mostly stuck with 75mg once or twice daily).

Cravings: My first vivid craving was for broccoli rabe with garlic and lemon. Soon after I was obsessed with eating fresh green peppers like apples (ala the Iron Chef). I wanted all the citrus fruits too. I ate plenty of pita chips with hummous. I also craved regular chips and milkshakes (not together). Pickles tasted more amazing than ever. So did lemons and limes (which I ate halved and plain). Intense tastes were my favorites so Chris helped me cope by making sour and vinegary slaws of mango and jicima. On one day when I was sure I would not recover from feeling crappy in the morning, I was cured with a Station Street hot dog and some Target counter popcorn.

Increased hunger: My appetite was insane during the first trimester. I was ravenous especially on the days when I went to the gym. I could eat more than ever before and became hungry soon after eating. It has slowed down but there are still days when I seem to be insatiable. Early on, I coped by keeping plenty of healthful snacks around (baby carrots, green pepper slices, oranges and eventually peaches, watermelon, berries, and other in-season fruits) but as evidenced by my cravings I wasn't always a healthy snacker.

Sense and sensitivity: Some of the best and worst parts of pregnancy have been my heightened sensitivities with regard to smells, touches, and emotions. Things that smell good smell AMAZING. And things that smell bad make me want to DIE. Hugs from loved ones feel so nice and on my happier, sappy days I feel more intensely in love with my partner than I ever thought imaginable. I am more heat sensitive than usual. I am definitely more emotionally sensitive than usual. There seem to be peaks and valleys and on the lower days, I cry more easily. But I have long been a sufferer from "too many feelings," as Robina once put it, so I don't find the emotions to be too surprising.

Round ligament stretching: I've felt some adjustment pains that are normal if not (often incredibly) uncomfortable. Some days have been worse than others. Some weeks have been worse than others. And in my second trimester I have had to slow down on going to the gym because of sciatic nerve pain in my lower half. I am doing stretches and taking walks to compensate but hopefully I'll be back to the gym soon, at least for low impact cardio.

I have a few other unremarkable and/or tmi symptoms that I will spare from this archive. But overall I am lucky that things have gone so well, so far.

August 4, 2012

Week by week: 23

almost 23 weeks

I've found that the appearance of my "bump" shifts dramatically throughout the day. By the evening, it is pronounced and round all over, including on top. During the day (and especially before lunch) my natural waist is thicker than it was, pre-pregnancy (of course) but less bulbous. Periodically the skin of my stomach has begun to itch. When I feel its tautness, it is difficult to fathom how much more it will have to stretch and grow in the coming months. I've begun using lotion on it every day to try to fend off what I will likely be inevitable.

One of these days I need to take early and late day photos to show the difference in size.

Outfit 1:
Max Studio skirt from TJ Maxx (similar)
Kate Spade Rosette top

Outfit 2:
Asos maternity dress
Nordstrom cardigan
ChloƩ flats

August 2, 2012

The worst day of my pregnancy so far...

(I looked and felt much happier by the day's end.)

The worst day of my pregnancy so far also includes one of my favorite pregnant memories.

A few months ago, Chris and I took a trip to New York. We were long overdue to visit our friends! But when I bought the tickets, I wasn't yet pregnant. When I learned I was pregnant, I feared that all officially and unofficially planned trips (to San Diego and New York in the first trimester and eventually New Orleans and Orlando for conferences) would be mired with sickness, swollen feet, and discomfort. Two trips down and we survived. But the worst day of my pregnancy so far occurred during the trip to New York.

First I should say that I have been very lucky throughout this pregnancy. I am healthy. The fetus is developing healthily. I am fortunate to have great medical care and stellar insurance. I have many blessings. I also had a pretty smooth first trimester during which I was mostly just hungry and needed to eat in order to stave off sickness. Around week 5, I experienced a few dizzy spells and quickly determined that coffee and I would need to take a hiatus, but overall I was feeling good. That was until the iron in one of the two prenatal vitamins I was alternating (to be thorough) began to sit poorly with me.

I had a system where I staved off my dizzies (which besides the coffee connection, I eventually realized occurred if I hadn't consumed enough protein and/or if I had taken my iron-rich prenatal the day prior) by propping myself up before exiting bed and munching on some saltines for a few minutes. Then once I was sure-footed, I'd eat some eggs and Greek yogurt for the protein boost. Although this system was solid and able to be maintained through most of the trip, that day I waited too long to eat. And when you're traveling your schedule isn't always in your control.

I woke up on the Friday of our trip with a lot of excitement for a bunch of plans that day. We were staying with Robina and family, as we typically do in New York. We planned to eventually meet up with friends, Jacob and Lizz to go to a museum, then round out the day with a Mets game at Citi Field. But I made the fatal mistake of not eating protein right after I woke up.

Breakfast plans were delayed and I didn't express to anyone (including Chris) that it would be to my own detriment. A headache developed along with my dizziness which transformed into nausea (something I hadn't had much of at all in the weeks prior or following).  By the time I tried eating some food, taking some medicine, and resting, it seemed like nothing could help. I was too far gone. Robina suggested some fresh air so we went to her aunt's natural food market to browse and get supplies. I wanted protein bars so that I could better manage my symptoms in the future.

We grabbed the bars and some juice and while that aspect was unremarkable, what occurred in the store has stayed with me throughout my pregnancy. I started crying (hormones and... general feelings of helpless/hopelessness over my sickness) so Robina explained to her aunt in Urdu that I was ill because of pregnancy.

Her aunt and the and the other female store clerk immediately poured out so much palpable empathy and joy that I found myself crying not only from sickness but also from the overwhelm of the moment. In that small instance I felt an intense psychic connection to each of these women wash over me... each of who had been pregnant before and each of who showered me with their happiness and commiseration. It all felt so real in an otherwise very uncertain and very abstract time of first trimester newness.

There I was sharing something both deeply personal and yet widely experienced; something both incredibly remarkable and yet entirely mundane. I felt the isolating pain of illness in the company of women who utterly understood. So there I was connecting, with two women that I barely knew and one woman who is my dear friend, in ways I hadn't previously fathomed. Suddenly, there I was feeling sick as a dog and yet somehow happy as a clam.