Let's Move on from Jungle-Themed Baby Stuff

What's one terribly random problem I encountered when I was pregnant with Forrest? The fact that everything for babies is jungle-themed. 

I have nothing against a nice jungle theme, but sometimes, I just want to get a piece of baby equipment that isn't decked out with monkeys. Especially when it comes to boy stuff, it seemed like it was jungle or nothing at all. 


This is something Danny and I really struggled with. We wanted things that were gender neutral and theme neutral. I don't like monkeys, in general, and I wasn't 100% sold on having them covering everything in our living room. We did well on most things, opting for a neutral swing (no jungle animals hanging from it) and neutral toys (limited monkeys). 


Things got difficult, though. Our Fisher-Price Kick'n'Play mat was only available in a jungle theme. Our Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up chair was cheapest in, you guessed it, a jungle theme. I was willing to give in on those two items. We spent hours searching for an activity center, a bouncer that didn't have a rainforest or jungle theme. We settled on a Finding Nemo bouncer that seemed like a safe middle ground. 

This leads me to a very important question: what is it about jungle theme? What about it is so appealing to toy producers? Why not forest themed or water themed? Why is everything jungle? Why not just plain shapes? 

When I think about something like our Fisher-Price Kick'n'Play mat... I have to wonder why it had to be a jungle. Why not just a plain colored mat with the plain colored keyboard? The toys that hang off of it don't have to be animals: they could be plain colorful shapes, shaky toys, and ropes. They don't have to be animals. 

I'm ready for more neutral baby products. That's all I want: basic, simple, pretty baby products. 

I Didn't Have a Birth Plan

In my 2nd trimester, I sat down and tried to write a birth plan. I looked up online what they usually included; I asked my mom, and my friends, and anyone else I could think of. "What even is a birth plan?" I asked Danny. He shrugged. 

It was easy to be an idealist when I was pregnant. I couldn't imagine a world where I went into labor early; I couldn't imagine a world where I didn't breastfeed; I couldn't imagine a world where I would be induced. It just wasn't a reality for me. I imagined Danny and I pulling up the hospital, me waddling inside the labor & delivery floor for the first time. 

As anyone who has read my blog before knows, that's basically the opposite of what happened. 

A lot of energy and emotion is put into birth plans. We plan our nurseries and our schedules and our maternity leaves--we assume we can plan our labor as well, or our entire pregnancies. But as good at planning as I may be, I couldn't plan preeclampsia. I had never known anyone who had developed preeclampsia during pregnancy and even though I had fears about it, I never realistically thought it would happen. 

But it did happen. In one doctor's appointment, all my plans went out the window. If I had had a birth plan at that point, it undoubtedly would have been mostly out the window. 

Since I overthink every situation, I found myself, in the weeks after Forrest's birth, wondering that, if I'd had a better plan in place, would things have been different? I found myself second guessing everything I'd wanted. Did the epidural make Forrest lazier, which made it more difficult for him to nurse? Did the inducement rush his birth? (Later, I would look back at this last question and say to myself, "That's the point.") I found myself asking over and over, did my preeclampsia cause every problem we have? 

Nothing I would go back and "do" would change my preeclampsia: preeclampsia begins at conception, even if you don't show symptoms until the end of pregnancy. Preeclampsia isn't something you make happen to yourself; it's just something that happens. There was nothing I could have done to fix my faulty placenta. 

At the same time, I realized something brilliant about my lack of a birth plan. Many moms who develop preeclampsia end up hating how they had to give birth. If you have a specific idea in mind (an unmedicated birth in a birth center, or at home, for example) and then medical necessity requires you do something you don't want to, it can be jarring, emotionally. That isn't to say you shouldn't plan for a home birth or giving birth at a birth center, but that you should be ready to have something change at the drop of the hat. 

It's very easy to let ourselves get bogged down by the things that went wrong. Even though a plan, I found myself sad about giving birth earlier than I wanted to. I wondered if I'd done everything wrong. But the truth is, pregnancy is just one big guessing game; you can try to get things perfect as much as you want, but the more you plan, the more you're likely to feel upset if things don't go "right." 

I'm not advocating for everyone to drop their birth plans--but I do think it's better to be more chill about how your labor & delivery goes than we currently are. There is no shame in a home birth or going to a birth center, but there is also no shame in going to a hospital, getting an epidural, or opting for a c-section. In the end, the baby will arrive. The most important thing is that everyone is ok at the end of it. 

10 Tips for Soon-to-Be New Moms

No less than 7 of my friends and acquaintances announced their pregnancies over the week of Christmas. As I look back wistfully at my pregnancy (and the fast-approaching end of my maternity leave), there are some things I wish I'd known about what was about to happen to me and my life. I survived the first 3 months of Forrest's life. That's a pretty big achievement. Here's what I've learned: 

1. The baby is either going to sleep or it won't. Don't sweat it. 

"My baby wakes up every 2 hours. Help!" 

"My baby has been sleeping for 5 hours, at what point should I call 911?" 

Every baby is different. Some will sleep, some won't. Some will want to eat and play every two hours. Some will be out for 6-8 at night from the beginning. And, at any moment, this could change. A typical every-two-hours baby will suddenly sleep through the night. And those magic babies that people brag about will suddenly start waking up every two hours. Because, here's the thing, babies like to keep you on your toes. Nothing is permanent. Nothing

2. You don't need the fanciest stroller or car seat or whatever. 

There is a major dick-measuring group of mommies out there who love their strollers and want to tell you all about how spending $1,000 on a piece of plastic is soooo much better than the cheaper options. Ignore these people (and please don't become one). Get the Graco or Chicco or whatever set that is in your price range. It's just as safe as the others. Really. As long as you install it properly. The stroller will be just as confusing to unfold in the rain in the Target parking lot. The baby won't know, nor will the baby judge you for it. Because undoubtedly, no matter what stroller and car seat you use, the baby will inevitably scream through the entire store in it. 

3. "I will never..." are words that you will eat. 

"I will never co-sleep!" I crowed, repeatedly, while pregnant. I swore up and down. Forrest sleeps, happily, next to me every single night. I set lots of rules for myself: walks in the park, grocery shopping, keeping the house clean, scheduling naps. I have yet to keep a single promise I made to myself while pregnant. Things change. The baby you end up giving birth to will never be the one you planned to have. That's ok! Do whatever it takes and don't feel bad about it. 

4. Feed the baby. 

Just feed the baby. Stop stressing about breastfeeding if it's hard. It's ok to supplement. It's ok to go to formula. It doesn't make you a failure or a bad mom. And if breastfeeding is going great, that's awesome--but it doesn't make you better than anyone else. We're all just feeding babies here. Just feed the baby. Resist the urge to smack the Target cashier who sneers when you buy formula, or more nipple pads, or rice cereal. It's your baby. Feed it.  

5. Stop Google-ing everything.

I have Googled baby poop, eye pictures, ear pictures, and rib cages. I have frantically, usually while rocking Forrest, read the same 4 pages of links regarding sleep training over and over again. I have repeatedly Googled how to sleep train without resorting to CIO and Ferbering. I have typed, in all caps no less, "MY BABY WON'T GO TO SLEEP AHHHH" into Google at least three times. Resist the urge. Stop using Google. Expel it from your mind. You'll only drive yourself crazy. 

Instead, call the pediatrician. It's ok to drive them a little crazy with your crazy. 

6. You will miss being pregnant.

I hated being pregnant. Capital H, HATED, pregnancy. And yet, about two weeks after Forrest was born, I started missing it. I found myself thinking wistfully of the nights I could feel him kicking as I fell asleep. It is a strange phenomena to immediately miss the state you couldn't wait to escape, but there it is. You will miss being pregnant, you will miss your little human being a part of you, you will miss being able to keep them 100% safe inside of you. It's ok. Just don't get pregnant again right away, for the love of God. 

7. Find a good group of moms. 

Find a mom group to join on Facebook. I have an October due date group on Facebook and I spend 90% of my time there. Danny is probably tired of hearing about them. In most conversations, I say, "In my October due date group on Facebook..." at least four times. I can't help it. I get all my advice from them. They answer all my questions. We complain about our babies and husbands and dogs and houses in the privacy of the group. Find a small group to join. Don't start fights. Avoid talking about vaccinations. Be nice to them. 

8. Whatever you feel, it's ok. 

You will have a moment where you wonder why you thought you do this. You will have a moment where you wonder what you're doing, if you should just wait until your husband and baby are asleep and quietly pack up and leave. You will have moments where you wish with everything in you that someone would just show up and take the baby for an hour, two hours, a week maybe. It's ok. We've been there. 

9. If you have anything you particularly enjoy doing, you probably won't do it for a while. 

Case in point, I've been writing this blog post since October 25. I'm not kidding. I have only finished books because my 11+ lb baby pins me down for every nap. Forget cooking elaborate meals, washing your bedding, doing your hair the way you like it, or wearing anything dry clean only. 

10. You'll be really, really happy (even when you aren't). 

Taking on motherhood is one of the biggest challenges of our lives. It's amazing what we can do! It's also downright catastrophic in terms of how it completely alters your life and nothing can really prepare you for it. But even when you're awake at 2am and super cranky about it... you'll be happier than you've ever been. I promise. 

My Top 5 Third Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

Depending on what your doctor says, the 3rd trimester starts at either 27 or 28 weeks (there is some debate). However, the real slog doesn't seem to really start until about 30 weeks. This seems to be when the exhaustion starts in. If you've known about your pregnancy since very early on (3 or 4 weeks early), you've been excited and mentally preparing for a very long time. By 30 weeks, you're ready to have the freaking baby already... and you're not even full term yet!

In my case, by the time I was 30 weeks, I experienced a few things: none of my shoes fit; none of my tops fit; my back hurt, I had heartburn, I cried all the time, and I just wanted to spend all day eating chicken strips and chocolate cake. Who could blame me? 

When it comes down to it though, my 3rd trimester has been relatively smooth sailing (so far). I have days where my feet aren't bloated (although my carpal tunnel means me hands are pretty permanently puffed up) and I haven't had any pregnancy-related health problems. I'm not plagued by extreme symptoms like some women... but that doesn't make for a "pleasant" 3rd trimester by any means!

Here are my top 5 essential for surviving the last few weeks... and hopefully, the last four.

1. My Kindle

Where would I be without my nightly bath-and-reading session? I'm pretty sure I would have ran away forever by now without having the escape of a good book after a long day at work. Plus, holding a Kindle is much easier on my carpal tunnel plagued wrist than a book. It's lighter and I don't have to worry about turning pages. Win-win. 

2. Camisoles.

Remember that bit about none of my shirts fitting? It's not that they're too small... it's that they have gotten too short. My solution to this problem was long camisoles. I can wear them under tee shirts and sweaters to lengthen them and cover the three inches of belly that sometimes show. I can also wear them plain under cardigans and scarves for a somewhat lighter fall look (since I get overheated super easily these days). My favorites are from Forever 21--and at $1.90 a piece, they are a steal. (They also come in v-neck, which I love as well!) 

3. My "Husband" Pillow.

I don't think the technical name for these pillows is "husband" pillows, but that's what Danny and I call them. I got mine from Target for $14.99 (and you can get it for 10% off with a code!) I use it to prop myself up at night to prevent heartburn, to read in bed, to elevate my feet when they get mega-puffy... It's soft. It's cuddly. I love it. 

4. Faux-Uggs... or Fuggs.

I bought a pair of Faux-Uggs for $15.00 at Wal-Mart. They are two sizes too big and seasonally inappropriate, but I would not have made it through the last few weeks without them. Why? They fit my feet even when they are dramatically swollen. They support my ankles. They are easy to take off and put on. They are extremely comfortable when my feet hurt. They aren't the most attractive option... but at a certain point in pregnancy, you have to give it up and accept whatever you can to be comfortable. 

5. Water Bottles.

I keep a water bottle with me at all times: at work, in the car, at home. I also try to keep one or two extras in my fridge, full of ice and water, for the middle of the night (so I don't have to use the ice maker and wake everyone up). Staying hydrated during pregnancy is insanely important. Basically, most unpleasant pregnancy symptoms (Braxton Hicks, back pain, swollen feet) are given the advice of "drink more water." Drink more water! Drink it! Water has also helped my heartburn in the middle of the night: when I just can't bring myself to eat another Tums, I take a big swig of water... and it calms my heartburn enough to let me sleep. It's the little things. 

Have your own pregnancy essentials? Share with me on Twitter or in the comments below! 

Oh No, My Shoes Don't Fit

On Monday, I put on my plaid print maternity dress (not my favorite) and a denim jacket. Minimum effort for maximum effect, which is really all I can ask from maternity clothes these days. For the past few weeks, I have found myself wearing the same pair of shoes every single day: my blue and white striped loafers that I impulse bought from Old Navy. They are already worn in, with embarrassing prints on the inside, and scuffed up somewhat badly. I made myself promise that I wouldn't wear my striped flats again. 

Instead, I put on a pair of strappy, studded, flat sandals that I've owned since the summer of 2010. They have served me well as a go-to, slip on sandal in the summer months... and they've always been a smidge too big, flopping away from my foot on the inside.

Monday morning, I slipped on these old, trusty sandals as not my first choice, but rather my last one. I would have preferred to wear a wedge, but my sore feet can't really handle walking even my 1-block walk in them. I put them on, drove to work, and worked 8 hours. 

Throughout my workday, I kept noticing my feet feeling, well, number. Especially the toes. But my office gets pretty cold, especially with air conditioning, so I moved my feet around and told myself to ignore it. The feeling got more and more intense until I left around 3pm. 

It wasn't until I was standing in the elevator and looking down at my feet that I realized the straps of my sandals that travel across the base of my toes were, well, nearly imbedded in my foot. I wiggled my feet around, pushed my sandals back a little. They moved, but my toes were horribly constricted and looked like fat little piggies, perfectly bright pink. 

As I walked to the parking garage (and thus, my car), my feet started to ache, the constricting strap cutting into my toes and making every step painful. 

My stupid feet. My stupid, fat feet! I wanted to scream. When I got to my car, I loaded my purse and lunch bag into the passenger seat, then promptly tore off my sandals and threw them on the floor of my car. I was mad. 

It was a foot betrayal. 

I drove how barefoot, feeling excited and free with my feet less constricted--and really happy that the feeling of numbness quickly disappeared from my poor toes. But I also found myself thinking: This can't happen. 

I can handle my clothes getting smaller. We all expect that in pregnancy, right? You can't wear your normal jeans or your favorite t-shirt or most of your underwear drawer. 

But you can always wear your shoes. 

My tiny shoe size has always been a comfort to me. Wearing a size 4-6 reminds me that my body has the potential to be small. No matter how unhappy I might be with my size 8 or 10 pants or my size L top, I knew that my feet were small. Society could suck it--I have small feet!!

Realizing, with a sudden and painful stab (like that of constricted toes), that my shoe size is changing. Is it swollen feet? (They're puffy, but not that puffy.) Is it the tendons in my feet shifting? (Maybe? Is that a thing?) Are my feet just growing with the rest of me, rebelling against what I've done purposefully? 

I can't fit into any of my favorite kitten heel shoes (my high heel of choice is, hilariously, a teeny tiny kitten heel). I can't fit into some of my smaller, more narrow flats. And most of my sandals cut into my puffy little feat. 

But I can wear my loafers. Trusty loafers. They never fail to disappoint, do they? Except that loafers don't go with every outfit and, come fall, it would be nice to wear other closed toe shoes. 

As soon as I got home Monday (and stopped hyperventilating), I found myself staring into the hallway closet where I store my shoes. Flats and boots and sandals and heels. I have so many shoes. So many teeny tiny shoes, size 4s or 5s, 6s, a few 7s. So many that I can't fit into, that make my feet look like bread that's proofed too long. 

In times of distress, I find that reorganizing always helps. So I did that. I looked at all my shoes; I counted them (don't ask how many, please don't); I organized them into two piles, too small and fit ok. I organized them by the mere fact of whether I could still wear them or now. I found myself comforted by the number that I could still fit my foot into (comfortably). More than just a few pairs of loafers: most of my non-pointed toe flats, some heels, my boots. 

It's hard to let go of an old fact about myself. I feel defined by the things I've always thought myself to be: a writer; a reader; a good student; a girl who wore a small size of shoe. It's hard to tell myself that there are other things that define me, more important things than my feet, and that a few pairs of too-small shoes aren't that big of a deal... but then I remember, I really love my shoe collection. 

How to Make a Baby Planner

For months, I had a spare Filofax cover floating around. I ordered it last year and promptly realized that it was too small for my handwriting and I didn't like any of the available Filofax calendars. (I know, I know, I'm picky.) I dismantled it and waited to use it for something useful. I follow a lot of #plannergirls on Instagram, which has given me lots of ideas for how to use spare planner covers and more. (Although, I don't see myself scrapbooking my planners so intricately anytime soon, although I love looking at the creations of others!) After I got pregnant, I knew that it would be a great idea to make a planner for my pregnancy and the baby. 

I'd looked through Pinterest trying to find a good tutorial or at least rundown of how another mom made a baby planner... but I couldn't find anything quite like I wanted. I decided to rough it and ended up making 5 tabs for myself: Basics (for to do lists, contact information, etc.), Hospital, Baby, Post-Partum, and Notes & Questions. 

I used a set of tabs that came with my original Filofax diary to trace onto some scrapbooking paper. After cutting them out, I used a hand punch to punch them for the Filofax cover. I used some stickers from a Simple Stories Baby Boy set to make the tabs, although they look a little wonky on the first one (it was my first try, what can I say?). 

From there, I separated each tab into some separate sections.

Basics includes a page of basic information about Danny & I (our birthdates), my doctor, my hospital of choice, and potential emergency contacts (my mom, Danny's parents). Then, I have sections for To Do lists, both pre-baby and post-baby. The basics section is basically a place for me to jot down things I need to remember to do or write a list of things Forrest really, actually still needs (a changing table pad, a carseat, a stroller) without having a million post-it notes floating around my house. 

Hospital has further information about my choice of hospital (including any notes I write down from my hospital tours, since my doctor delivers are two totally different area hospitals), as well as my birth plan, a packing list, and notes for Danny. Basically, I wanted to make sure that I have all my medical information and wishes written down in one place because, while I will remember them, Danny may not. 

Baby has a section for first stats, medical information, and any other notes I might need to write down and keep track of. This section also has a feeding log (to keep track of feeding times and breastfeeding concerns), as well as a diaper log. (If you're wondering why the "Name" section of Baby Stats is blank, it's because there is always the minute possibility that the baby will be a girl and therefore, not named Forrest. Gender determination is still sometimes incorrect.) 

Post-partum is a pending section: mostly, I'll use it for notes from the doctors, any instructions I might receive, and questions I might have. 

Notes & Questions is my most-used section right now! Whenever I think of a question for my doctor, I write it down here. Whenever I notice Forrest kicking more than usual, I write it down (as well as anything that preceded it, such as drinking a soda or eating ice cream). It's basically where I record anything that might be important for my upcoming appointments. 

If I hadn't had this Filofax lying around, I probably would have used a plain notebook (with dividers) to make a working baby notebook, but I'm glad I decided to repurpose a Filofax. It's the perfect size to carry around and I don't have to worry about buying diary refills for it... I can just cut down notebook paper or other loose leaf paper to use in it. I've found a lot of ways to keep myself organized lately, and this is just another way that I keep my memory in check. 

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? 

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.