pregnancy style

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! 

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 Pre-Baby Wishlist

Are wish list blog posts annoying? Maybe. But I've always liked them. It's kind of fun to see the other things that people search for on the Internet, or what they want for their birthday or just because. Doing them too often can be annoying because at a certain point, coveting stuff all the time is kind of concerning. But once and a while, a wish list blog post is fun. 

And this one is one really, long pointed stare at my husband. I've never been really obsessive about trying to get him to get me specific things for my birthday or our anniversary, but I've been making a really big deal about the things I want for the last months of my pregnancy. These aren't necessarily things I want for my birthday, because my birthday is October 20 and my due date is October 23. Waiting until potentially 3 days before giving birth to enjoy some new stuff seems like a recipe for disaster. 

Here are my (super duper basic) wishes for the last few months of my pregnancy. 

1. Striped Top

Guys, we need to talk about how much I want a black and white striped top. (I have an image in my head of it being majority white with thin, wide set black stripes.) Ideally, it wouldn't be maternity so that I could hopefully wash and shrink it down to post-bump status. If you're wondering why I'm jonesing for a relatively basic top so much, see my Maternity Style Pinterest board. It's the perfect Fall wardrobe addition (and it won't be too small like the striped top I own currently). 

2. Knee High Boots

For the past few years, I've operated under the assumption that I have "wide calves." But I actually, kind of don't? My calves have a circumference of 14 inches. Which, sounds huge, but is actually fairly typical. The average size 8 pair of boots has a circumference of 15-17 inches. Should work out, right? Wrong! Because I've never worn a size 8 boot in my life! I've always worn children's boots (size 4-ish and they have a calf circumference of... about 10-12 inches) or a size 6 (that typically has a calf circumference of about 12-13 inches). The size of the boot is correlated to the circumference of the calf... so if you're like me and have fairly standard size calves (or perhaps even muscular for your body type), but have always worn an itty bitty shoe size, you've never been able to find knee high boots that fit. 

With this knowledge, and puffy feet, I feel like the time has arrived: I can buy size 8 or 8.5 size boots and have them fit my calves and my feet (with thick socks). I've been scoping out boots for the last two months and I'm still undecided. I want to see them in person, I decide, and then I'll find a great pair of Mukluks on Zulily or something. 

3. A Knit Scarf

It's warm. It's cozy. It doubles as a nursing cover. It goes with every outfit. This year, I want a blanket scarf pre-Fall (so I avoid the massive sell out run on them!) and a really nice, knitted infinity scarf. 

4. Naked Smoky Palette

When I heard that Urban Decay was releasing a third (!!!) Naked palette, I had the immediate thought that they were jumping the shark. And I was wrong because the Naked Smokey palette is gorgeous. (I actually really love the Naked 3 palette as well because I loooove rose gold eye shadows, but I always look like I've got a bad case of pink eye when I pair pink-y eyeshadows with my hazel eyes.) 

5. An iMac

This is the most "dream worthy" gift I want. Someone needs to get me an iMac though. My trusty MacBook is starting to slow down and gets a little bit more laggy everyday. I've had it since my senior year of college--that's 5 years of use! I'm ready to graduate to a desktop computer and use my MacBook as a "use around the house" device. 

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. 

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.