Feel Chic

Less than 12 weeks into my pregnancy my pants were snug and a little bump was beginning to form.  It happens at different stages for every pregnant woman.  Some women show early, like I did, and for some it takes longer.  Regardless of when it happens be assured it will happen.  You will realize that your regular clothes no longer fit and that my fellow mommas-to be- is a sad, sad, day.

But don’t despair, maternity fashion has come a LONG, LONG, way.  So take being pregnant as an opportunity to flaunt your growing belly.  It’s the one time in your life when a big tummy is socially acceptable so don’t be afraid to show it off.  Unfortunately, showing off the bump and building a pregnancy wardrobe can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be.  Here is what I did to manage the cost.

  1. Invest in denim – My initial splurge item was a pair of Citizen’s maternity jeans (I ordered mine from Amazon).  I wore them throughout my pregnancy and felt stylish and chic every single time.  Jeans are available at every price point from a range of stores but in my opinion if you invest in a good pair of jeans you will be happy through out your pregnancy.
  2. Get the basics (and get them at Target).  Right after the maternity jeans, my next purchases were t-shirts and tank tops from the maternity section at Target.  The t-shirts and tanks are soft and stretchy, perfect for your changing body.  Oh, and they are very reasonably priced.  I bought a white, black and grey tank and a black and white t-shirt.  These five items paired with almost everything.  Secret – I might keep wearing them after pregnancy they are that great.
  3. Leggings – My favorite pair of leggings are the Hue leggings at Nordstrom.  They sell a maternity version but I just bought the regular version. While I saved my leggings for the third trimester they are wearable throughout as they are soft, comfy and give lots of room for your expanding belly.
  4. Maxi Dresses – Whomever invited the maxi dress had pregnant women in mind.  They are comfortable and open which helps in the more uncomfortable stages of pregnancy.  Remember, you don’t need a maternity maxi dress but you might need one a size larger than your normal size. Get a couple, you won’t regret it.
  5. Regular clothes in bigger sizes – I won’t be pregnant forever but I may be a bit larger than I want to be for more than just nine months.  With that in mind I bought a few stylish pieces on sale at Nordstrom Rack one size bigger than my regular size and couldn’t be happier.  I also bought a dress from the Women’s Plus section at Target and it was ADORABLE.  These pieces will not only serve me during my pregnancy but should work in the months thereafter when I am trying to get back to my normal weight.
  6. Bra extenders – Most of the first and second trimester, I thought I needed new bras but then I discovered bra extenders at Target and my world changed. I just added these to my existing bras and voila they fit my growing chest perfectly.  New nursing bras are needed before baby arrives but the advice I received was to wait until week 37 to purchase as your breasts will continue to grow until baby arrives and thereafter.
  7. And if you still need to splurge, like I did, find a maternity clothing boutique and indulge yourself.  I found Mom’s The Word in Palo Alto, CA.  They have adorable clothes and everything felt soft and fabulous on my skin.  From there I purchased two body hugging maternity dresses and a couple of tops that will work during pregnancy and while I am breastfeeding.  I also did a splurge on a maternity pencil skirt from Nordstrom that worked great when I needed business professional attire.

To sum it up some splurge items are not only okay but are very needed to make you feel fabulous (like denim and one or two body hugging style dresses) but focus on the basics (t-shirts, tanks, leggings) in wearable colors at reasonable prices.  Try to buy regular clothes in a size larger so you can keep wearing them after pregnancy and don’t forget to go shopping in your own closet to find wearable pieces you can pair with your new tanks and tees.

Happy shopping mommas-to-be.

Reading Time!

Yes, I am the New Indian Mom that wanted to keep myself from knowing too much or reading too much about pregnancy and raising children in hopes of keeping myself sane and not overly obsessed during my pregnancy.  But with all the changes my body was experiences I knew pretty early on that I needed at least a baseline understanding of what was going to happen over the next nine months. So I hit the virtual book store (sadly it is hard to find a real book store these days) to find a few baby books to guide me through my pregnancy.

Here are some of my favorites:

 The first book that I purchased upon finding out I was pregnant was The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.  After the first few chapters, I found this book too medical and not relatable.  A friend hearing my less than stellar assessment of my first pregnancy book purchase gave me her copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting and I am so happy she did.  This book was easy to read and had a good balance of medical jargon and everyday language to explain how the baby is growing and how I can expect my body to change week over week.  It is written in an accessible way and supported my goal of not over-obsessing.  I read only the part of the book that related to my week of pregnancy and never read ahead, until I hit my third trimester (yes, I am in my 3rd-tri already).  Upon beginning the third trimester and realizing the finish line was near, I did read ahead in the book just to know what to expect if baby came early. I think I trained myself so well in the first and second trimesters that reading ahead did not freak me out or cause me to obsess, which was great (even when I read the dreaded labor and delivery chapter).

The second book that I highly recommend is The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy.  This was given as a gift from another dear friend and mom of two adorable girls.  This is by far the best book in my collection.  It leaves the medical mumbo jumbo to the doctors and talks more about the experience of being pregnant the way only your girlfriends’ can,  at least, the ones who’ve been through the “exhilaration and exhaustion, the agony and ecstasy of pregnancy”.  It’s funny, witty, and as real as it gets.  If you are expecting and haven’t picked up this book yet – do so now!  It is great and I savored each and every word as if it were written just for me.  I think you might feel the same.

Besides the baby books, it’s good to keep some non-baby related books by your bedside too. You will need something to distract you from the pregnancy and sometimes a gripping novel or some trashy gossip magazines do the trick.

Are you expecting a baby soon or have you had one recently?  What were your favorite books to read while pregnant?

 

The First Trimester

Almost the same day that I found out we were expecting our first child, I begin to experience the dreaded morning sickness.  However, in my case, it wasn’t morning sickness but late afternoon/early evening sickness.  I cannot say how my sickness compares to other pregnant women.  All I know is that for me it was overwhelming and exhausting.

I was one of those people who prior to becoming pregnant can count on one hand the number of times I had a cough or a cold.  I enjoyed good health my entire life.  So imagine my shock and complete inability to cope once baby started to make its presence known in my body.  The nauseous feeling was overwhelming and made the afternoons and early evenings adventurous to say the least.  I never knew how bad it would be but most days were pretty darn bad.

In the first trimester I lost seven pounds as I simply couldn’t keep anything down.  While feeling so sick, I was working full-time and trying to disguise my pregnancy from colleagues. No easy feat when I had to run out of  afternoon meetings to the restroom to deal with my severe nausea or had to pull over the car on the drive home to vomit.

During one particularly rough weekend, I started crying and told My Leading Man that his child was trying to kill me.  “Now what kind of mother says that?”  he retorted.  “Many probably think it but probably don’t say it out loud” I shouted back.

And so it went for twelve long weeks.

Cultural Perceptions on Managing Post-Baby

There were many things about being pregnant that were completely expected – the nausea, the fatigue, the emotions, the weight gain.

What was completely unexpected was the reaction by women who grew up in India on how I planned to manage post baby.

I tried very hard to not over think my pregnancy.  I focused on the basics but I tried not to get ahead of myself. I tried to focus on the current moment and deal with each step of pregnancy as it came.  My overarching pregnancy philosophy was and still is that everyone does it. I am not the first person to go through this.  Homeless people do it.  Stupid people do it. Short people do it.  Crazy people do it.  No matter what, I will be able to do this.

That includes dealing with the ups and downs of pregnancy as well as figuring out how to manage post-baby.

However, I was in for a quite a shock by the reaction of Indian women to my post-baby plans.

I plan to manage the way so many people the world over manage.  My mom will come for two weeks post-baby but then I am on my own.  Maybe my aunt or my sister will come for another week but essentially after my mom leads me in a two week motherhood boot camp, I will be managing on my own for the rest of my maternity leave.  My mom works and lives 500 miles away.  This is the best arrangement we have and I intend to make the most of it.  Never for a moment as my mom and I discussed our plans early on did I worry about this.  So many women manage with far less assistance that I am confident this will work.  It has too.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I fully anticipate all the difficulties associated with bringing home a newborn and managing alone.  I am not naïve. I know it will be difficult but I have no other option.

However, I do not think it will be as dramatic or difficult as the India-born women in my social circle make it out to be.

“You will never be able to manage, you know.”

“That will just never work.  My mom was with me for two months and I still found it soooo hard.”

“My mummy and papa stayed for six months and that was the only waaaayyy I could imagine handling this.”

I can understand the cultural perspective these women are coming from.  In India it is not uncommon to go to your parent’s home and stay there for a few months following the birth of a newborn.  For the Grandparents sitting in India who are able to come and revel in the joy of a grandchild while providing extra caring arms and legs to their daughters or daughters-in-law, I salute you.  That level of support is wonderful to have.  But the fact that your parents can sweep in from India and stay for months on end is simply not an option that most women have. My non-Indian friends often bring baby home with no help at all.  I am sure having a support network like this would make things easier but this isn’t reality for so many women and it certainly isn’t reality for me either.

There are many different ways to handle a pregnancy and raise a child, including how much help is available or not available to you during those early days of a baby’s existence.  Instead of judging one another, women should support each other and their choices.  Not all family situations are created equal and different approaches are workable.

How my situation will work when baby arrives is yet to be seen.  But I know I am not alone and my situation is not unique.  As much as my family loves me, they are doing everything they can to support me and for that I am truly grateful.

No you didn’t? Oh yes, we did!

There are literally hundreds of ways to go about telling people you are expecting a baby.  You can pick up the phone and call someone.  You can go the social media route and blast a post to all of your friends and followers.  You can throw a  party and make an announcement in front of a crowd. You can send announcements in the mail with a creatively orchestrated picture.

The options are limitless.

For us, none of these options seemed quite right.  As a couple in our mid-thirties expecting a baby for the first time we are surrounding by friends and family with their own conception struggles and triumphs. It seemed insensitive to our friends who were struggling to engage in any kind of public announcement. It also didn’t feel comfortable to call each person and give them our news.  I wasn’t sure what type of reaction I would receive over the phone, especially from the friends who were working on their own fertility issues.

So what was the solution?

Text message of course.  Now it may seem cold or even dry to some of you to send a text message but it was the only creative way I could figure out how to tell people without creating any artificial or immediate reaction.  The text messages were extremely well received and I believe for those who were struggling with conception, a more sensitive way to tell them.  The texts went something like this:

Hello Aunty & Uncle. This is Baby Sharma and I arrive in August.  Super excited to meet you. 

It was sweet, simple and to the point.  The responses back were simply wonderful.

How would/did you announce a pregnancy to others?  Would you ever go the text message route?

Start Spreading The News

The best part of finding out you are pregnant is sharing the news with others.  While My Leading Man and I were pleased with the news I was very cautiously optimistic.  I wasn’t exactly excited or ecstatic the way people expected me to be.  Maybe the reality hadn’t fully sunk in. Maybe I had heard to many stories about things that could go wrong during pregnancy. Part of me just wanted to keep the news to myself for as long as possible.

Yet there were people who deserved to know right away and we wanted them to share in our joy, however tempered it may be.  After a few days of just letting the news settle we told  my Mother-in-Law over the phone, who was extremely happy.  In almost the same breath that she expressed her enthusiasm she started spewing a series of instructions related to what to eat, what to not eat, what to lift and not lift, how much rest to get and so much more.  It was a lot to absorb for a first conversation but she was clearly excited and I was happy to hear her so happy.

My mom found out a few days later when we were visiting her in person.  My Leading Man had practiced a way of telling her but fumbled the delivery.  After some confusion, my mom finally figured out what My Leading Man was trying to tell her.  There were hugs and tears. Mostly a whole lot of excitement.

Every expecting mom needs a tribe of people to support her through the process.  Even in the early stages.  While all the baby books, doctors and blogs out there advise you to wait to tell people until you clear the first trimester hurdle, I felt that I needed/wanted to share with a few key people before that.  I knew I would need support and I knew which of my friends were most likely to provide that support .  So once our families knew, I told two of my friends and My Leading Man told one of his.  That was our tribe and it was incredibly supportive and helpful to have people to talk to in those early weeks.

The rest of our friends and family slowly started to find out after the 12 week marker.  How did we share?  Find out in the next post.