Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stylin' your bump

I tried to hold out for as long as I could. But sooner or later I had to admit defeat and the fact that some of my regular clothes just aren't working anymore. It started with my workout attire and bras mostly because my chest grew first. So I simply delegated my workout tops that weren't fitting to the bottom of the drawer, bought a few new ones and bras and called it a day. I did buy two maternity shirts and a pair of pants before necessary from old navy and H&M just to get me excited about the pregnancy and have an excuse to go shopping. Now at 31 weeks I have found that not only does one have to surrender to the maternity tops because they are longer and stretchy and more comfortable but also to either going commando or wearing boy cut underwear. Lacy bits and strings on the hips just don't work anymore because, well my hips are disappearing and there is nothing on the sides to hold these things up. Fortunately for me it's winter here in Colorado so I can get away with wearing leggings day in and day out as opposed to worrying about jeans. I did buy a belly band the other day for my flight attendant pants because of the clasping on them otherwise a nice trick is looping a hair tie through the button hole of your pants and attaching it to the button. My skin is so itchy though that the more comfortable my clothing the better I feel so whatever feels good against my skin is what I'm wearing these days.

Maternity style doesn't have to mean wearing a tent around these days. Thanks to celebrities it has become status quo to dress your bump. Instead of being annoyed that some of my regular tops no longer fit I take it as a challenge to see how cute I can flatter my new curves. I'd like to share with you some of my favorite looks so far that I have created - all on a budget and all flattering to the body. I was blessed that I did not show until probably 6 months so all of my regular clothing worked until then. Here is me at 16 weeks:

As you can see, at 4 months there really wasn't a distinction between pregnant and not pregnant in my body.

I bought a white long sleeved shirt from H&M and old navy that I have worn countless amounts of times from week 20 on. The maternity shirts they sell in these stores have a little ruching on the sides that is meant to grow as you do and the perk of white is that it matches with everything and always looks crisp and clean.

At six months I could still layer a lot of my outer pieces with these maternity shirts like I did in the photo above and have no problem.
The leggings I am wearing in the photo above are NOT maternity but they are from old navy and are seamless and have a thick high waistband and are nice and long. The waistband is perfect because I can pull it above my belly or wear it below.

The shirt I'm wearing above is also from old navy and the pants are jeggings that I bought pre-pregnancy and have continued to wear. The top is not a maternity top it's just a size up from what I normally wear. You may think you can do this with all clothes but you would be wrong. The problem with that is that maternity wear is designed to fit your curves whereas being a size bigger usually puffs out at the wrong places. This shirt is loose enough to work however, and I added a belt to accentuate the bump. Belts above the bump are my new favorite way to play up the curves and make a distinction between boobs and bump which are gradually growing closer together.

Here I am wearing one of my 5 old navy maternity tank tops. These have the ruching on the sides, the fabric works well once I wash them and you can layer over the top with anything you like. I chose a denim jacket above (not maternity) and the same skinny belt.

My mom had gotten me the gray top above which I layered over a black maternity top. The patterns and detailing on it and the fact that its' a little shorter in the front than back make it work for this 31 week pregnant stomach.

Doing my hair is key at this point as well because it really pulls the look together and can make me go from feeling frumpy to polished. Thanks to pregnancy hormones my hair has grown longer and thicker in a short amount of time so I'm having fun playing around with different styles.
 This black shirt came from Ross and paired with jeggings and a statement necklace works well from day to night.
 My mom actually got me this shirt and it's not maternity but the flowy loose style worked perfect and I added a belt once again to give a distinction to the bump. In my first 6 months I spent time hiding the bump but now that it's apparent you want to highlight it so that people can actually tell the roundness is from a baby not too many cheetos.
Winter time means one needs a good solid coat to wear and I picked this white one up at old navy in a size larger than what I would normally wear. At 31 weeks it's still working for me! I figured I could wear it non maternity as well when I wear heavier sweaters underneath. My mom bought me a black old navy maternity jacket that is long and puffy which is what I normally wear on a day to day basis. This being a white jacket and wool it requires dry cleaning so I don't bring it out until night. I figure I can wear it unbuttoned too when the time comes for as long as I can.
 Above is me around 5 months wearing the coat my mom bought me - it has cinching on the inside so you can make it hug the body more in the beginning and gradually let it out towards the end.

Ultimately maternity style is about what makes you feel comfortable. Truth be told when I'm not in my yoga clothes a lot of days I'm walking around with hardly anything on because a lot of fabrics just don't feel good against my skin anymore. I don't care how much lotion or oil you put on, that skin will still itch and when it's bad there's nothing I want touching me! I know in the next 8 weeks I will continue to grow as the baby does and I will update my readers with some more ideas on how you can find some style even when you feel uncomfortable and big as a house boat. Because yes I have those days frequently even now but I know it's not going to last forever so I may as well enjoy the perks of having an occasion to shop for!
leggings and tank top - perfect combo

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Shower or Not?!

Showers. That’s the subject that’s been on my mind lately as I move full speed ahead into the last few weeks of my pregnancy. Not the type of shower that involves soap and water and checking to make sure you can still see your feet but the one that involves cupcakes, a gathering of friends and registering for items one supposedly needs to care for a baby. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, I had a full on cry session about my shower at the beginning of the year. I was having various people come up to me and ask me, “so who’s throwing your shower?” and all I could answer was, “I don’t know…” Which was the truth because I had several friends who had mentioned that they would like to throw me a shower but that’s as far as the conversation had gone at that point. Realizing as I entered the New Year I was now on the downward slope towards becoming a parent (for real) I began to panic. Wasn’t I supposed to have a baby shower? When would this take place? Who was supposed to be in charge here?

Weddings are a lot easier to navigate when it comes to social cues and etiquette. You pick your bridesmaids and those ladies are in charge of making sure you are taken care of right up through your wedding day. Best case scenario they throw you an awesome bachelorette party and lingerie shower, they help you get ready on your big day and they ensure you do not worry about the little things. Personally my husband and I were made to feel beyond loved where our wedding was concerned. It seemed people were coming out of the woodwork to throw us showers and parties and we ended up having three total; two of which were couples showers. We also both had our respective maid and man of honor throw us amazing bachelor and bachelorette parties. I could not have felt more love and support where our wedding was concerned.

Being pregnant has been a different experience entirely. Neither my husband nor I have family that lives in town for starters. Fortunately I have had a drama free pregnancy which has resulted in the bare minimum of ultrasounds and midwife appointments. While there is love and support abound from my husband and family, for the most part I have realized most friends just aren’t as jazzed up about babies as they are weddings. Unless that friend has had a baby. Your friends that have had children will, without a doubt, be the most excited to welcome you into club parenthood. But, for some reason, creating a human life, having a miracle living inside your body and going through the pain of childbirth just isn’t as much fun for others as two people who may or may not stay together forever throwing a big drunk fest.

After my initial panic of, “what if no one throws me a baby shower,” I took to the internet to research and see if others had the same experience. As it turns out, I found message boards full of women who shared their concerns that either no one was going to throw them a baby shower, or that they had children and had never had a baby shower with any of their kids. This saddened me beyond belief (and believe me I’m already weepy enough these days) and shocked me to some extent as well. Here these women are about to go through one of the biggest changes in their lives and some of them were completely looked over apparently by their friends and family. Unlike a wedding you do not have a group of friends appointed to make sure these social functions are carried out if you so desire. There will be no group of people to go shopping with you when you outgrow your regular clothes and need maternity pants or bras. No team of best friends to precede you down the hall at the hospital on your big day and tell you that you look beautiful and toast with you after it’s all over. While giving birth, to me, is a much bigger deal than a wedding day (which let’s not forget anyone from Kim Kardashian to strippers in Vegas can have) it’s met with much less enthusiasm and fan fare from those who should matter most.

I understand baby showers are not the most fun social event to attend. I myself, had anxiety attacks when I went into Babies R’ Us to buy gifts for others. That is because, for the most part, baby showers tend to be lackluster. But they don’t have to be. For myself I envision a coed baby shower that isn’t about the gifts or tiny onesies or guessing “what’s in the diaper,” it’s about a gathering of friends one last time before our world is forever changed. I just want a showing of support from those that recognize the journey and how far we have come in the last 7-8 months. Anyone can plan a wedding, but have you tried growing a human? It’s hard work! You can’t hand the task over to a planner or throw money at things that you need done.

I am blessed in that I have some wonderful friends who did indeed step up and offer to throw me a baby shower. I know it is a difficult thing to coordinate and plan and it involves money and time. I am grateful to these ladies because they have been supportive of me from the start of my pregnancy and have been excited with me at every step of the way. I realize now that is not entirely common. There is no way to predict who will be there for you when your time comes. I am in an in-between point in my life where a lot of my friends have not yet had kids so they do not feel the connection to me and what I am going through. I was the same way when I was on the other side of the fence. I’ll admit I dreaded baby showers and sitting in a circle watching the mom-to-be open gifts and playing games- oh the dreaded party games! But I realize now I was missing the whole point of the shower – to congratulate the woman who may or may not have struggled to embark on the journey of motherhood. To buy a gift off the registry of carefully chosen and researched items that may have taken hours or days to pick out. Most of all to be a friend and be supportive because for many, now that I look back, that would be the last time I’d see that person without a child. It’s not like a wedding where you see your friends on Saturday then see them again the next week and they are still the same. No, this may be your last opportunity to talk with them freely and uninterrupted so enjoy that time.

After all that’s what a shower is really all about – giving your time, support and love to someone and wishing them the best on the road ahead whether you chose that road for yourself or not. And by all means set yourself up for some good karma and if a friend who is having a baby says that no one is throwing them a shower then just offer and mean it and see the offer through. You never know when the day might arise that you would like the same consideration and love extended to you. 

*In my subsequent blog I'll be letting you know how I did, indeed, navigate the world of registering for the baby shower. It's a bigger pain in the ass than you might think

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Birthing Plan

Throughout my pregnancy I have made it my mission to speak the truth about not only the physical but the mental changes I have undergone. My hope is that someone out there reading won’t feel so alone for having the same thoughts or reactions to all the overwhelming changes. Mine is just one experience of course so I can only speak to me. I plan to tell my birth story once it happens in just twelve or so more weeks. I’ve been reading a lot of birth stories online and they have taken the fear out of birthing for me. I’d like to preface my birth story with my expectations of the birth especially as I take the time now to start writing out my birth plan in week 28, month 7.

Let it be known I do not condone any other woman’s choice in birth even if it’s not something I would want for myself. I’m only sending out my intentions to the universe in hopes that I will have the birth experience I desire for myself.

My friend and doula Casey was the first person who even made me think of a birth plan. I honestly had never thought about what kind of experience I would like. When Casey gave birth and told me her birth story I honestly though she was crazy. She wanted a natural birth and I could not fathom such a thing. But despite having to have pitocin to kick start her contractions (her water broke but nothing happened after that for a good 18 hours) Casey delivered without complications. She appears to be, but in reality isn’t super woman and when I became pregnant part of me thought, “well if she can do it why don’t I at least try?” So I started doing my homework. It amazes me how many women don’t do their homework when it comes to birthing. I probably wouldn’t have either if Casey or my midwife didn’t prompt me so if no one is prompting you consider this your sign – start doing your research. You can’t really pick a care provider until you consider the type of birth you want. Or at least you shouldn’t. It’s like picking a wedding venue or dress before you picture how you want your special day to be. I decided for me I wanted to attempt a water birth. A lot of hospitals have where you can labor in a tub (they will make you get out for the actual delivery) but only one in the state had a water birthing tub . This hospital also happened to be the only place that worked with midwives.(I chose a hospital for insurance purposes but in most cases I found that Colorado's many midwifes that attend home births charge the same as what I will pay out of pocket. Perhaps my second will be a home birth?!) Knowing I wanted a natural water birth I knew I needed a midwife and they seemed the most closely aligned with my values and goals. They are the go-to for normal pregnancies. Their care is individualized and focuses on minimizing the use of obstetrical intervention when possible. They provide all the prenatal care healthy women need. Midwifery care is associated with fewer episiotomies, fewer forceps and vacuum-extractor deliveries, fewer epidurals and fewer c-sections. They can stitch you up and do everything an OB does except cut you open...which is you don't want to be cut open is probably a good thing.
 The provider I chose has a staff of five midwives and depending on the day I give birth is who I get. A few have balked at this but to me knowing one of the five, whom I have all met at different appointments, will deliver my baby is wonderful. Better than having an OB who is out of town or attending another birth that same moment and you have to have someone else deliver your baby who you don’t know or trust at all in my opinion. My appointments last between 20 minutes to a half hour. They remember me – that I teach yoga, that I fly, details about my life outside of pregnancy. One named Anne, I swear she looked inside my soul one appt. when she told me not to worry about weight gain and to buy “the cutest maternity clothing your budget will allow” to make myself feel better. She told me, "I can tell you are someone who values the way you look" - does this lady know me or what?

The percent of those that can have a water birth is very small because you have to have a near perfect pregnancy. So far I’m on track. I’ve researched a lot and the water seems to be a soothing pain reliever for most women. Of course, I could get in the water and hate it but I want the option. And that’s what birthing is all about- knowing your options. There is more in your control than you think. You can choose what position you deliver in, if your baby has a bath or is taken to the nursery after it is born. You can choose if you have to have a c-section, to have the sheet lowered at the last minute so you can see the baby pulled out. You can choose to have the baby laid on your chest right away, who you want to cut the cord; do you want to eat and drink in labor; if you want to save the placenta; who you want in the room; do you want the vitamin k shot or the eye goop they put in the baby’s eyes (which by the way is for if you have an STD and not medically necessary if you don’t). Knowing whether you want your son circumcised and if you want to attend. All of these are so important. Even knowing what each procedure entails – like if you have an epidural you have to have a catheter and then your legs will be numb so you must lie on your back to push which is less than ideal position for the baby to come out. Other side effects of an epidural can include a dramatic drop in blood pressure, if given too early it can slow the process of dilation, descent of the baby and proper position of the part of the baby emerging first, and they increase the chance of a c-section, forceps or vacuum-extractor delivery. In two percent the anesthesiologist makes an accidental lumbar puncture which means the epidural can’t be given and the woman ends up with a severe headache that lasts for days or even weeks.

If you don’t know your options you have none.

I realized that giving birth to me is like hiking a 14er – except this is my Everest of hikes. When I decide to hike a mountain I research it online. I read trip reports. I go on message boards and ask questions and I prepare mentally and physically. When I arrive at the base I look up and I know it will be tough work to reach the summit. When I hike I start strong but there are moments when I question myself. There are times when I get halfway through and wonder why I’m doing this. What am I trying to prove? What does this even matter? I look up and the summit seems so far but I look back and I’ve come a long ways. And I press on until finally I reach my goal. I visualize myself on the summit before I even reach it and, in 27 hikes, I’ve never not reached the top. People ask me if they can hike a 14er. I tell them it’s more mental than physical. Childbirth will be hard but it can be done. Women all over the world do it every hour of every day. My choice is to at least try the way that allows me to experience the pain. I don’t want to numb it I want to feel it and have gratitude for my body. Other people don’t want the pain and that’s fine. Other people don’t want to hike 14ers either. To me the end result will be worth the pain and the hassle.

When I plan to hike 14ers I always tell myself too – the only thing that will stand in the way of getting to the top is something that’s going to endanger my life. And that’s how I feel about natural childbirth. The only way I give in or give up is if something is going to endanger my life or my baby's. And that’s my own personal choice I am putting out in to the universe…in hopes that I can be reminded of this when the time comes.

*Whatever type of birth you are considering I highly recommend watching the documentary, “The Business of Being Born.” For me it took the fear out of birthing and seeing it as beautiful and natural not something to be scared of. Remember – do your homework, know your options and be prepared.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

As I leave the second trimester behind....

 Happy New Year’s! 2013 marks the end of the Year of the Dragon and beginning of the Year of the Snake. While the past year was supposed to be a year of vigor, the new one is symbolic of shedding skin and starting anew. Since this will be the year of the baby for us, I have been delving into what characteristics a person born in the year of the snake might have. The element of the year is water so those born in this year of the water snake are influential, insightful, manage others well and tend to be good for organizations. They are motivated and intellectual and, like the snake, slither easily through their problems determined to find success. Their defining characteristics are charming, gregarious, introverted, generous and smart.

Of course right now it’s still just a 27 week old fetus full of endless possibilities in what it could be…including if it’s a boy or a girl. We opted not to find out the gender considering I feel one has so few true surprises in life. This marks the last week of my second trimester. Next week I will begin the third trimester, the homestretch and the end of one journey. I can tell the luxury honeymoon phase of this second trimester is coming to a close as my body begins to change more. Since the constant I am asked is how I am feeling, I thought it appropriate to share just exactly how I have been both in body and mind. I hope that others can relate or know what they might be in store for when navigating these uncharted waters like I have done.

As my skin grows it has become itchy and yet as the days pass I am increasingly more comfortable with the body that stares back at me in the mirror. When I step on the scale at the gym I still cringe but I don’t let the number staring back define me. My first three months were about acceptance of this pregnancy and the changes and letting go of expectations. I am still pretty good at hiding my bump when I want too but for the most part people who didn’t know before are starting to figure it out. I had one brave gentleman on the plane as if I was sporting a baby bump the other day. Many of my students at the gym, fresh from their holiday vacations stop me after class and offer their congratulations saying, “I had no IDEA!” I have learned how to safely modify my yoga practice and find blocks to be my new best friends. I cannot stress enough how important it is to work out during your pregnancy (as long as your health care provider does not restrict you). Not only does working out calm my mind and make me feel better about my body, I also hear from students and fellow classmates that I motivate them. They see me working hard and it pushes them to do the same and when they see me back off it allows them to know that’s OK too. As a teacher I now rely more on my students to demonstrate rather than trying to do it all myself which in turn empowers them and forces me out of my comfort zone. If it were not for teaching and exercising I do not think I would have had the confidence to embrace the changes of my body as I have.

While mentally I can embrace the way I look it doesn’t mean I am having the easiest time with the new found side effects that come with almost 7 months of pregnancy. As I said my skin itches. The heartburn has crept in. Over Christmas it got so bad I was throwing up popcorn in my mouth – lovely I know. My mom had to run to Walgreen’s to buy me some Tum’s. With the baby so high up I find it hard to breath at times which isn’t so bad unless you are trying to talk and teach spin and sprint on the bike all at once. My hair has grown in thickness which is a plus and I enjoy having boobs now although it does create a problem with my built in bra workout tops and has forced me to buy a bigger bra all together. What fits one week sometimes does not fit the next so I just retire that item of clothing to the back of the closet. Kegel’s are another exercise one must start practicing so you don’t run the risk of peeing yourself with every sneeze. The relaxin my body is releasing just makes everything on the inside go soft in turn creating new challenges for me. I have been experiencing excruciating charley horses in my calf muscles that strike in the middle of the night. I literally wake up crying in pain as it feels someone is stabbing my calf while giving me an Indian sunburn at the same time. I thought I would be lucky and not have any sciatica nerve pain but a few days ago it struck me so bad I could barely walk. If you’ve never experienced this, the sciatica runs along your left butt cheek and can cause your whole leg to go numb from the low back all the way to the ankle. I spent much of this week teaching half pigeon in yoga class just to stretch it out with my students. Sitting in the car can be painful and the 2 hours I spent at the salon the other day were uncomfortable to say the least. Basically the body I am in is not comfortable anymore. I have a hard time sleeping on my side so I tend to roll on my back gasping for air. I believe the body must make you accustomed to lack of sleep to prepare for the months ahead after the babies arrival.

As humans I believe we are creatures of comfort. To move out of the comfort zone brings much anxiety and a feeling of loss of control. And yet I am starting to welcome the challenge. Since I cannot take off my body at the end of the day and hang it up on the rack I must find a way to make the most of what is given to me. To modify, adjust, and sometimes just approach the situation with a new attitude. If I can learn to do this in my mind and body that I feel confident I can approach the uncertainty of the year ahead in the same way. We all have hang ups about our selves. There are always things we wish we could change or aches that we wish away. But I find the more I strengthen my mind the more in touch I can be with the strength of my body. I look at it like a machine, a vehicle for my soul. It may not be perfect right now; it may ache, stretch, fall apart or fail me. But it’s uniquely mine and if I don’t love it how can anyone else?

 There is a quote I love that pertains to my favorite past time of hiking 14ers, “What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.” It reminds me that you might be content to not climb high and do what might appear difficult but you will never get the view from staying on the ground. Leaving another year and 2/3rds of a trimester behind I am reminded that the view can only get better the higher I intend to climb. I already know what’s below me, it’s time to unfold what is above….