maternity essentials

It Took Three Tries, but I Love Stitch Fix

I cried when I opened my second Stitch Fix box (referred to as a "Fix"). I'd harbored suspicions that my maternity status and my size was limiting my options since my first failed Fix, but the second Fix confirmed it. Nothing jumped out at me as "young" or "stylish" or even "cute." It was just frumpy, boring, plain basics. Things I could get cheaper elsewhere and didn't need to hire a specialty service to find. 

After my first Fix, I'd emailed Stitch Fix customer service to inquire as to how, exactly, things were picked for my box and what had went wrong. I'd spent a stupid amount of time answering the Stitch Fix Style Profile; I'd even dedicated time to pinning things on Pinterest to a board that I included in my Style Profile. I'd written long paragraphs on my favorite patterns, my favorite styles, my hesitancy towards anything "boho," my dislike of how frumpy all maternity clothes are. I'd put in effort. But that first Fix didn't seem to return the effort. In fact, it felt like they'd wandered through a warehouse, grabbed the first five things in my maternity size they could find, and shoved them in a box. 

Stitch Fix was obviously sad that I hated what I'd received (minus a dress, that I love and wear at least once a week, but was admittedly out of my budget). They offered me a second Fix for free. 

What does that mean? It meant that the $20 "styling fee" you pay to receive your fix was on the house. If you decide to keep any items from the box, you'll receive a $20 credit towards those items, since you already paid that amount. (However, if you decide not to keep anything, you lose that $20; you don't get it back and it isn't applied to a future Fix.) So basically, I was getting a new box of stuff and $20 credit. 

I was impressed with their Customer Service response and excited to receive a second Fix, hopeful that whatever had gone awry would be solved and I'd love everything in it. 

It wasn't meant to be. I received my second Fix and it was the same, or potentially worse, than the first Fix. Everything was blah, boring, and, of course, frumpy. One shirt, infamously, had a knot in the front that made it look pretty obscene on my baby bump. 

This time, I wasn't just disappointed. I was hopping mad. I'd expressed my concern that it felt like someone was just flinging whatever they could find in my size in a box and now I was convinced that was true. I received a three pack of one-size-fits-all camisoles. Seriously. I read a lot of reviews and I've read a lot of Stitch Fix and no one, no one, that I can remember has ever received a three pack of one-size-fits-all camisoles. That just doesn't make sense. I can buy that at Target or Wal-Mart. 

I fired off an email to customer service, again, mentioning my previous ticket numbers and my disappointment that nothing had been done to improve what I was receiving. What was the point of a "free" box if the stuff in it is just as bad as the first box that caused me to get that "free" box?? 

The emails I received in return from Customer Service were disappointing. I suspect that the person responding was relatively new. It wasn't the same person as before, as I'd hoped, but was instead someone who seemed to be typing right out of a script--a dead giveaway for a newbie who is overwhelmed by a complex customer service issue. I requested someone else answer my emails and received a third response from her, apologizing and using the exact same canned language as the first two emails. Cute. 

Then I received a phone call. 

It was from Julia and I was in the bathtub, nursing my swollen feet and swollen face from crying over my swollen body and disappointing fashion prospects. Julia is a stylist at Stitch Fix. She assured me that it wasn't my specific size or maternity status that was preventing me from receiving good items. However, she just wasn't 100% sure what had gone wrong; she admitted that, looking at my Style Profile and my Pinterest board, my style was crystal clear and the items I'd received were not in line with my style at all. She agreed they were boring and bland, and could understand why I was so miffed by them. It felt good to hear someone agree with my concerns and thoughts, because I'd begun to wonder if I was just hard to please. She did say that my request to not receive synthetic fabrics may have contributed, so I agreed to try out some alternate fabrics to see if they agreed with my itchy preggo skin. 

Julia offered me one more "free" Fix (remember: $20 credit) in a week and a half. She offered to style this box herself, personally, and would take extra time to send me stuff she knew I would love. She couldn't promise to keep items in my desired budget, but I agreed that if something was exactly what I wanted, I was willing to pay more for it. 

That was 10 days ago. I received my third Fix. As I nervously carried it upstairs, I wondered whether I would love it or if, for a third time, I would open the style card showing all the items I'd receive with dread and disappointment. 

In every fix, you receive a tissue-wrapped bundle of clothes and a teal envelope. Inside the envelope is a note from your stylist and five cards showing the items you've received and two different ways to style them. This is a great way to see what all is in your box without tearing open the bundle (although you can do that too, I guess). Also inside the envelope is an invoice that lists the price for all five items, as well as the discount you will receive if you keep (and thus, purchase) all five items. 

Looking at my style cards, I liked every single item I received. This was a first for me, but it's the best kind of first. 

I received a pair of leggings, three tops, and a dress. The leggings I knew I would keep immediately (if they fit right) because they were made of a sturdy material that is higher quality than the cotton leggings I normally buy. As I started putting them on, I had a moment of nervousness that they would be too small--but they weren't! They have a zipped detail on the ankles that I love. 

Of the three tops I received, I ended up deciding to keep one: a black and white striped tunic with a pink detail at the top. It's basically what I've been looking for since getting pregnant. It's lightweight and very flattering. If you want to see what it looks like, I posted it on my Instagram

The other two tops were a boho-esque white lace tunic that was a little too tight on the bottom and a little too big at the top, and a blue sleeveless top that was just a little too long on me. They were both really cute on, but the fit problems meant I couldn't justify keeping them. 

The dress I received looked like a t-shirt dress on the styling card. In reality, I'd called it a 70s-reminiscent skater dress with a slim top and a-line bottom. In orange, it was quite cute, but it fit too tight across the chest, which make the skirt not fall right. 

I packed up the three items I decided not to keep, checked out on Stitch Fix, and sent probably the nicest email I've ever sent in my life to my stylist, Julia. She couldn't promise she would be my stylist whenever I get my next Fix, but I'm satisfied enough with this Fix that it doesn't really matter. I've officially gotten what I wanted out of Stitch Fix: a decent outfit that makes me feel like a million bucks. 

Despite my first failed attempts at Stitch Fix, I think I can ultimately say it's a valuable service, to the right customer. If you're tired of shopping, don't like it, or just plain don't have time, it can be valuable to try Stitch Fix; if you have a clear idea of what kind of styles you like (and those you don't), it makes it that much easier. But the casual shopper, who loves to hunt for great deals or genuinely enjoys shopping, won't get much out of it. Under normal circumstances, I don't think I'd like Stitch Fix... but being in the midst of maternity clothes that I hate, it felt like a great way to get some things that actually look decent and don't require me to spend hours searching for them myself!

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, you can sign up here. (In full disclosure, that is a referral link; if you use it to sign up, I'll receive a $25 credit.) 

My Pregnancy Essentials

Someday, I'll have something to write about that isn't pregnancy related. I swore I wasn't going to be one of those annoying pregnant women who only talk about being pregnant--but it's weird how all-encompassing pregnancy can become, even right from the beginning. If you're sick, there is no escaping the fact that you're pregnant. Once you start to show, the gig is really up: your mobility is effected, as is your body chemistry and more. 

I meant to write this post earlier, but I'm glad I procrastinated on it. There are many things that people will claim are "essential" to pregnancy (and that some people never use once). That's because nearly every pregnancy is different: what works for some women doesn't work for others. Some women never have to buy maternity clothes; some need them starting in the first trimester. I could list examples for ages. You don't really know what you'll need until you, well, need it, but I found a lot of value it learning what other people used to help them through. Here are just a few things I wouldn't have made it through the last 23 weeks without*. 

(*I will be writing an updated list, probably, once Forrest is born.) 

1. A heating pad.

From about 11 weeks to 16 weeks, I had the worst lower back lumbar pain. At first, I thought it was that terrifying back pain they tell you to watch for if you're having spotting and/or bleeding... but it wasn't. It lasted for about the same length of time as my morning sickness: let me tell you, it was super fun to have the two combined! My back perpetually ached as if I'd moved houses every single day, but a heating pad helped immensely. Recently, my back pain has returned, this time in a different spot (mid-back) thanks to pressure from Forrest. So my heating pad has made a return. I got mine at Target for $25 and it has truly the ugliest mossy green cover slip (that is terribly matted now), but I could really care less: I love it and refuse to part with it. I take it everywhere. 

2. B12 supplements.

Note: If you're pregnant, please don't just start taking B12 if you're pregnant; talk to your doctor first. That goes with any vitamin or medication suggested by any blog post like this one! 

I used B12 in combination with Unisom to help my morning sickness. I really do not know how I could have made it through without it. Originally, my doctor prescribed me Diclegis, which is basically a single-tablet version that combines the active ingredients of both B12 and Unisom. However, my insurance didn't cover it (and it's about $600 for 30 days worth), so I survived on samples until the 25mg B12 I'd ordered from Amazon arrived. For me, it was the simplest way to handle my morning sickness... and the Unisom helped with my insomnia. 

3. New underwear. 

As I've mentioned before, certain waistbands grew to be really uncomfortable to me. Anything that hits at a certain spot presses on my bladder and/or encourages Forrest to kick incessantly at that area. Early on, I had to resort to new types of underwear to keep myself comfortable. I really like Victoria's Secret "shortie panty" (basically, high-waisted boy shorts). I also really like Aerie's "girly shorts". Both brands are incredible comfortable and hit just high enough to avoid that uncomfortable bladder spot; also, their waistbands aren't binding, so they don't get in and cause muffin top or just general discomfort. 

4. Sun protection of all kinds. 

"Your skin reacts to the sun so differently when you're pregnant!" I read that sentence, in a hundred different ways, multiple times early in my pregnancy and I really didn't believe it. Then I got a sunburn. Firstly, I got sunburned on a part of my skin that A. was not really showing and B. I had definitely put sunscreen son. Secondly, the sunburn lasted, bright red and ugly, for two weeks. Only recently has my skin started to fade to a slight tan-ish color; I'm hoping it disappears soon. So now I cover myself in a coat of sunscreen right out of the shower if I know I'm going to be outside for any length of time; I carry a little bottle of sunscreen everywhere; and I try my best to stay in the shade even if I am outside. It's been so hot lately that I can't really bother with wearing long sleeves or long pants, but I do try to find ways to keep my skin protected. Because that two-week sunburn really sucked. 

5. Lotion.

Along with sunburns, my skin has been incredibly dry since around 11 weeks. This is really strange for me as I typically have very oily (facial) skin and I've never really had to bother with having to put lotion on my arms and legs. I often did just for fun, however. I've used almost an entire jar of Burt's Bee Mama Bee Butter, as well as nearly half a brand new bottle of Bath & Body Works lotion. Everyday I use more lotion than I have probably used in the average week and a half pre-pregnancy. 

6. Bullet journaling. 

I don't mention this very often, but I use bullet journaling at work to keep my deadlines and to do lists straight. I have used two Moleskine notebooks in a year of work and I'm on my third now. With pregnancy, my previously amazing memory disappeared; if I don't write down a task or something someone tells me, I will almost always forget it within 10 minutes... sometimes when they are still in the same room! Obviously, that's embarrassing. I'm really glad I got into the habit of bullet journaling pre-pregnancy because it's been a lifesaver with remembering tasks at work (not that there have not been some slip ups). Everyone bullet journals a little bit differently, so here is a search on Pinterest. Maybe someday I'll write a post on how I bullet journal, but alas... not today. (Mainly, I don't use fancy symbols for my to do lists; that is way too much work!) 

A few examples of things I didn't need or use: body pillows; a belly band; those morning sickness lollipops (they cut up your mouth); Seabands; and baby apps (although I downloaded a ton of them). 

Fellow pregnant ladies & mommas, what were your pregnancy essentials?