On Pregnancy & Style

Maybe you know (and then, maybe you don't), I used to be pretty into fashion. I had a very specific style; I took outfit photos; I maintained a fashion blog. I was into it the way some people are into baking. I curated my wardrobe; I mixed and matched; I kept a notebook full of outfit ideas; I wrote down at least three outfit combinations before I bought a new item. I was dedicated. 

And then, one day, it stopped. At first, I stopped liking how I looked in outfit photos, but I kept dressing up everyday because I enjoyed it and I had the clothes. As time passed, my body changed and my carefully selected wardrobe started to not fit quite right. More time passed and everything fit even less. 

I ended up in a deep rut where my wardrobe made me deeply unhappy (but the thought of getting rid of anything literally felt painful). I put everything in boxes and replaced it with, essentially, sweaters, leggings, and flowy tops. I didn't feel stylish, but I felt I could at least come across as cute or passable most days. 

Then I got pregnant. 

Pregnancy makes you treat, and look at, your body in a completely different way. No longer is that pizza on a Friday night just sustaining you; a good portion of it is being siphoned into a tiny human being that is growing bones, a brain, and organs. No matter what you do, your body is going to change and it's going to be very obvious to other people (even if they don't know you're pregnant). 

I will never be one to be preachy about treating your body like a temple. Truly, your temple is what you chose it to be: that could mean it's a salad bar or it could mean it's a rave. Who knows? It's your body/temple/whatever. And I don't think pregnancy really changes that (except in the case of drinking and smoking). I will fully admit to demanding Taco Bell at least once a week, sometimes more. I will also fully admit that some days all I drink is Diet Pepsi (I'm so sorry about the aspartame, Forrest). To a certain extent, pregnancy is such a stressful time otherwise that to try and stop yourself from craving the things you want when you're ravenously hungry is just another building block of being miserable. No one likes the mean pregnant lady, that's for sure. 

All I'm saying is: being pregnant changes how you view your body, and yet, there is no stopping or changing it. No amount of salads or sweet potatoes or kale is going to stop your body shape from changing, your waist from thickening, your abdominal muscles from separating to accommodate your fancy, improved uterus. 

Since getting pregnant, I have thought a lot about clothes. From the very start, you know your body is going to undergo a monumental shift, but you don't really know how or when. The knowledge is there, but the important part is the details and that's what really matters. You try to prepare the best way you can. For me, this meant making a truly bizarre decision to try not to buy maternity clothes. This didn't work, obviously, because I'm wearing maternity pants right now

A little less than 3 weeks ago, all my shirts were suddenly tight in a place where they hadn't been before (that is, across the belly). My pants could no longer button (but, brilliantly, still fit everywhere else). Most important, I could wear my leggings, but the cutting in of the waistband was torture. I had to do something. 

I bought maternity jeans and maternity leggings. I bought a maternity dress. I bought a pair of somewhat dorky maternity cargo pants. I bought extra long tank tops at Target for summer.

The unifying factor of all of these decisions? I bought them, ultimately, out of desperation for something to wear that wasn't my uncomfortable leggings. I didn't buy them necessarily for max cuteness or because they fit my style. In fact, they really don't. 

But part of that desperation was the desire to look better. It's true: I could wear sweatpants and baggy t-shirts for 9 months and call it good (and considering my workplace, this is entirely possible). But I started to realize if I dressed nice everyday (maybe not stylish, maybe not perfectly) I would feel a lot better about the fact that I was slowly becoming more spherical. If nothing else, if I looked pulled together, I would feel less like people were judging me (because my baby bump only really looks like a baby bump if you know I'm pregnant). 

Personal style is a tricky subject to begin with. Some people have an effortless style that they fall into without having to do much work for it--there is no curation for them, no hours of trying on items. Some people are on the opposite spectrum, never quite achieving the look they want and never really knowing where to start. Pregnancy can make things more difficult, with different sizes and larger price tags, for both sides of that spectrum. 

I actually started a Pinterest board to give myself ideas when I feel like pulling a WFH and wearing my Batman onesie the whole day. (As an aside, I love the bloggers who start doing "How to Dress for Pregnancy!" pins at like 8 weeks with their perfectly flat stomachs. Just wait, guys. Just wait.)

Mostly though, while I work my way through pregnancy, I want to try to improve my self-image to be the best it can be--baby bump and all.