What I Learned About Clothes During Pregnancy and Immediately After

1. Interim jeans are worthwhile. Interim jeans are ones in a size bigger than your regular size. I wish I had bought some before buying maternity jeans rather than struggling with using a hairband to hold my pre-pregnancy jeans together. Because now that my pregnancy is over, maternity jeans no longer fit, but neither do my pre-pregnancy jeans. So I’ve invested in a couple of pairs of interim jeans to wear until I DO get back into the pre-pregnancy ones (because I WILL!). I could have had more wear out of them by buying them in early pregnancy though.

2. You can wear pre-pregnancy hoodies and baggy jumpers without stretching them. Many of the T-shirts I wore in late pregnancy were not expensive “Maternity” T-shirts, but regular Lycra T-shirts and they’ve all retained their shape just fine. The unseasonably mild temperatures at the end of my pregnancy meant that I got away without needing a maternity coat, but I lived in warm hoodies instead and they are also undamaged. The drawback of this is that I will not be able to tell my child/ren not put their knees inside their jumper “because you’ll stretch it” in the way that my own mother did!

3. It is perfectly possible to get away with buying larger sizes of basic clothes such as stretchy tees, rather than buying expensive maternity t-shirts, despite what the akers of maternity clothes will tell you. See the above point about non-stretching. The worst thing that will happen in the T-shirt will be longer at the back that at the front over the bump. So what?!

4. Lots of maternity jeans and trousers do not have pockets. But many do, if you search for them.

5. Maternity jeans are more comfortable, and fit better, than almost any other kind of jeans I’ve ever worn. Why all jeans do not have a stretchy wasitband, I do not yet understand! Although obviously it would need to be a stretchy waistband without the shape to cover a beach ball!

6. A hairband is an excellent accessory for prolonging the life of pre-pregnancy trousers and jeans, and costs a fraction of the price of expensive proprietary bump band extender thingys. However, see point one about interim jeans.

7. Maternity bras are not sexy. Or particularly supportive. Ironic, no?

8. Maternity knickers are not required. I was quite shocked when I learned of the existence of specific maternity knickers at about 37 weeks pregnant. I continued to wear my own pre-pregnancy knickers throughout pregnancy, although I‘ll admit that from six months on I only wore boy-shorts style ones. They sat perfectly comfortably just below the bump. I would not advise spending the extortionate amount of money asked for knickers with a bit of a cut away for the bump.

9. Slip-on shoes and flip flops, however, are a must have. Bending down to put your shoes on whilst eight-and-a-half months pregnant is possible, but why strain yourself? Likewise following a c-section. And when your feet balloon to twice their normal size due to hot weather and too much standing in late pregnancy, you’ll be very glad of a pair of flip flops. Even in October!

10. Maternity clothing catalogues are very seductive. They are full of women who looking absolutely blooming, with their neat little bumps as they skip in a sprightly fashion along the sea front. They sell an ideal that if you spend £50 on that tunic, you too will look sleek, neat and gorgeous, rather than hot, tired and ungainly. It’s not true. And once the baby is born, avoid like the plague. Those lovely images will have you missing your pregnant body and wanting to do it all again!

Photographs and A Pizza Hut

I’ve mentioned a couple of times about wanting to feel like a “normal” pregnant woman and mother-to-be, rather than a lab-rat-impersonating, diabetic medical machine. And what better way to do that than taking advantage of being pregnant to eat crappy food just because you really, really want to? Seems a bit daft really, when the cause of all the medical stress is attempting to keep your blood sugars as stable as possible, eating crap is hardly likely to help. But the crap in question was a Pizza Hut pizza, and it’s something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind for the last two weeks.

Fortunately it’s a craving I’ve found easy to suppress, because we don’t have a Pizza Hut anywhere near us to either visit or get delivered. But this evening we went up to London to preview the photos I had taken at my maternity shoot last week. And right next to the studio is a Pizza Hut restaurant. (And funnily enough, right next to that is a Kentucky Fried Chicken. No McDonalds though, so the song is incomplete.) After a few days of excellent numbers, I thought I deserved a treat. I can’t help but think that if I were a “normal” pregnant woman, I would definitely use that to justify both my desire and acting on it. So I used the phrase that every pregnant woman should use at least once: “But I’m preeeeegnaaaaaaant……” to make Ian relent. (I also tried to blame the desire for unhealthy pizza on Flangelina, claiming that they were sending me internal thought vibes demanding greasy pizza and that they would do horrible things to me on the way out if I didn’t oblige. Funnily enough, Ian did not buy this story.)

As an aside, “normal” or not, pregnancy is not really a good excuse to eat crap anyway. The average pregnant woman needs only a couple of hundred extra calories, and only during the third trimester. And she also needs plenty of good quality nutrition, rather than saturated fat! But it was a one off indulgence, so I still think I was justified!

The photos, for the record, are fabulous. We’ve ordered framed prints for our wall, but narrowing down the choice was very, very difficult. I’m so, so glad that I chose to make a record of my pregnancy in this way.

As for the pizza, I enjoyed every single mouthful. Even the heartburn it induced seems tolerable for a change. And I’m so looking forward to devouring the two remaining slices currently languishing in our fridge. Mmmm, yum!

I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

We took a run down to the coast today to view the photos from my free pregnancy photoshoot. I was really happy with how they turned out and we had trouble selecting an image as our favourite to take as our free print. So of course, we did exactly what they hoped that we’d do – the whole reason they offer “free” shoots in the first place – and ordered a couple of extra prints. I’m only going to be pregnant with this baby once though. I may only be pregnant at all once, but even if we decided to have another, it would be a different experience. I only have now to capture this moment. And I do love my pregnant body. I’m more comfortable in my skin than I’ve felt in a long while, so I’m keen to celebrate that and remember it.

Mind you, looking at the images taken just a couple of weeks back, I cannot believe how much I’ve changed already. How much more enormous I am! I’ve known from the outset that I’ll continue to get ever larger, but it’s a different thing coming to terms with it actually happening. When I look at how stretched and hard my tummy is each day, it’s impossible to believe it can stretch still further.

It wasn’t as warm as the last time we were beside the sea but it was still a pleasant day and we decided to make the most of the trip down there and keep up with the “doing stuff whilst we can” attitude. So we made a visit to the new Turner Contemporary and then took a long walk along the sea front and finished up enjoying lunch. By the time we were heading struggling back up the (steep!) hill to the car park we’d left the car in, I was absolutely exhausted. It’s definitely true that stuff gets harder to do the more pregnant you get, and it seems that visiting an art gallery and then walking a couple of miles is my limit right now. Which I find as depressing as I find my body shape lovely. If I could have the body confidence and still be able to do everything that I usually can, feeling fit and strong, that would be my ideal. I don’t like feeling as though my lungs aren’t big enough to sustain more than mild exertion and that I don’t have the strength the haul myself about. It makes me feel lazy and unfit, even though rationally I know that not to be the true case.

Still, Flangelina seemed to have fun, kicking and rolling about during the car journey and as we wandered around the Turner, and then being soothed by the fresh sea air. Next time we go back, to pick up the images, we may well have him or her with us on the outside to enjoy it!

Baby, I’m A Star

Today I had my second photo shoot of this pregnancy. The one that I specifically booked, and was looking forward to the most, at the studio run by our fabulous wedding photographer.

Each time we visited the studio in the run up to our wedding, and then viewing our pictures afterwards, I noticed a gorgeous maternity shoot picture on the wall. It is a profile shot of a woman naked but for a long piece of flowing red fabric draped across her bump and then flying, as if in the breeze, out behind her. It really highlights the beauty of the pregnant form and since before I was pregnant I’ve know that if I ever was, I wanted a picture like that of me too.

I really do think that pregnant women have a special kind of beauty. I’ve long been fascinated with other ladies’ bumps. And funnily enough, right now I feel pretty beautiful too. I don’t usually hate my body, but I don’t think it’s fabulous, and I’m not always comfortable with my lumps and bumps and the way I look in clothes. I frequently struggle to feel attractive and I certainly wouldn’t class myself as gorgeous or even good looking. Pregnancy, however, has given me an unprecedented body confidence. I love my shape now. I don’t feel lumpy and bumpy anymore. Everything is stretched smoothly and I feel curvy, feminine and fabulous.

I’d carefully planned insertion of my infusion sets and CGM sensor so that I could take both out when I reached the studio. I knew I’d be OK for the length of the shoot without basal insulin, and I could re-insert a new set and new sensor immediately afterwards. Being medical device free added to my sense of freedom and confidence.

For the hour I spent at the studio, I felt like a star. We started with some clothed shots to capture the shape of my bump. We then moved on to some beautiful semi-naked shots – the kind I would never normally dream of posing for. And finally we played around with that flowing red fabric. For the duration of the shoot, I forgot about numbers, and diabetes and worried about the baby’s well being. I even forgot about my aching back and heartburn and all the other uncomfortable aspects of the third trimester. I had fun!

Obviously I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I’m already excited. If I could offer one unusual tip to someone who is newly pregnant, it would be to book a photo shoot. Make the most of your truly amazing body, capture your unique shape and really, really enjoy doing it!

Babymoon Adventure

Does my bump look big in this?

When we booked to go away to the coast this past weekend, we expected that it was going to be autumnal. We wanted a few days to spend together as a couple for the last time before the baby, and so envisaged curling up in front of the log burner, and wrapping up for blustery walks along the beach. What we got was very different. The hottest October day on record at a scorching thirty degrees!

The house that we booked, down at Camber Sands, was right on the beach. The door opened on to the sand and we could hear the waves rolling all night. It turned out to be a little piece of heaven. In the warm early mornings, while the tide was out and the day trippers yet to arrives, we took glorious long walks along the water’s edge, our bare feet sinking through the sand, stopping to collect shells that I have a vague idea of sing for some craft project. As the beach filled up with sunbathers until hardly a square inch of sand was visible, and they began to scorch and roast under the hot sun, we retreated in to the shade of our house where we played board games and relaxed. As darkness wrapped itself around the dunes, we cosied up cooking lovely meals, watching DVDs and then gazing at the stars, before sharing a bath in the giant corner tub.

The only downside was that the degree of heat does not mix too well with heavy pregnancy. My feet swelled up to such a degree that I broke the only pair of flip flops I’d taken with me. (We had to search out more, along with sun cream, and it turned out that the beach-front shop from which we bought them had re-opened especially due to the hot weather!) I had to spend much of our indoor time with my feet propped up on a tall pile of cushions, and each walk we went for seemed to make them balloon yet more. My fingers were so puffed out that my wedding and engagement ring are currently residing on a chain around my neck. And I couldn’t walk too far or do too much without feeling utterly exhausted. But that was OK, since relaxation was our primary aim anyway.

It was odd to think that this was our last baby free holiday, just the two of us. I couldn’t help myself keep imaging a similar trip with our child in tow. Watching them paddle in the water, collect shells and build castles in the sand. It was a fantastic weekend, but I feel ready now for what’s coming next.

“Do Everything Now. Do It. Do It All Now!”

That seems to be the number one piece of advice that people want to give me at the moment. Which is funny, considering that a couple of months ago some of the same people were berating me for wanting to take so much maternity leave before the birth. It seems there is a generally held belief that once you have a baby, life is pretty much over, and therefore you should take advantage of your last shreds of freedom and do as much as humanly possible (or pregnantly possible!) with it.

I don’t believe at all that life will be over, but I do now that it will be very different and so I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job at making the most of this time, to be honest. Less than two weeks in to maternity leave I’ve already had a couple of long lunches with friends, been for a pregnancy massage and made a sizeable dent in some reading and craft projects. This weekend we’re off on a babymoon, and so we decided to kick the weekend off yesterday with a proper date night to complete the experience – and make use of one of our last opportunities for some time to go to the theatre. (And the last opportunity for a very, very long time to go without worrying about a babysitter!).

But before that, I headed to Margate for the day. Back in August, when we had our 4d scan part of the package was a free pregnancy photo shoot at a studio down on the coast. The shoot and one picture are free, so not one of those things with a dodgy catch that you have to spend a fortune on the pictures. Of course, I’m sure that they will try to sell us plenty of extra pictures, but despite this, and despite the fact that I have another shoot already booked for next week, I decided I may as well make take advantage of the offer and have fun. Given that I can’t drive at the moment, it’s not the easiest place to get to, but I figured it would be an adventure and a useful way to pass a day. So off I treked on the train this morning, schlepping a bag of outfit changes in addition to my big pregnant tum. It turned out to be swelteringly hot day, especially for the end of September, and I was extremely grateful for the air-conditioned comfort of the HS1 train from Ashford!

The shoot was good fun. We did some simple shots using black and white tops, and a shirt of Ian’s that I “borrowed”. Some of the shots felt a bit cliched – especially the one where the photographer had me make a heart with your thumb and fingers over the bump – but given that I wasn’t paying, I’m not particularly bothered by that. It was fun to flaunt my curvy shape and revel in the sort of body confidence I wish I had at all times. Hopefully we’ll have some really nice shots to choose from when we head back down there is a couple of weeks.

Following the shoot, I whiled away some time in a lovely cafe, stuffing myself with an all day breakfast – not the heart-healthiest of foods, but easy to turn in to a low carb option – and watched the waves washing against the shore with seagull circling ahead, before catching the train up to London.

I met Ian after work and he walked whilst I waddled, over to the Charing Cross Road where we picked up some dinner. It was such a beautiful, hot early evening that I was really tempted to have a sneaky small glass of wine. These are the occasions on which I most miss alcohol. A Pimms would have been lovely too. But with absolutely no justification for it, I resisted and made do with a Diet Coke. We finished up the day watching Blood Brothers. In the eighteen or so years since I first saw it, I’d forgotten just how good it is.

By the time I slumped on to a seat on the train, I was absolutely dead on my feet. My very swollen feet that retained the marks of my shoes long, long after I’d taken them off. This is the first major swelling that I’ve run in to this pregnancy and I’m hoping a combination of the heat and being on my feet for so much of the day are the primary causes, rather than anything sinister like the start of pre-eclampsia.

Oh well, it’s the perfect excuse to spend the weekend with my feet up. And what better place than by the coast on such a glorious day, which promises to turn in to a glorious weekend!

Swimming in the Sunshine

It’s been unseasonably hot this week. Which is great for the fact that I haven’t bought a maternity coat, and nor do I want to, so every day that I don’t need a coat is a bonus. It’s not so good for the fact that I’m getting scarily massive and carrying a baby in your belly is a little like having your own personal central heating system that is permanently switched on, and turned to high.

In an effort to cool down, as well as get some exercise and keep the baby lying in the right position, I went swimming this afternoon. I’ve been swimming fairly regularly throughout this pregnancy. I enjoy being able to exercise freely, without straining my back and joints. Flangelina seems to enjoy it too, bobbing around in their own watery place whilst I plough up and down the length of our local swimming pool. He or she is invariably super active when I emerge, which I tend to take as a sign of approval.

This afternoon it was so hot, sunny and just plain… well, nice, outside, that I decided to brave the outdoor pool. And it was beautiful. Sunlight sparkling off the surface of the warm water and a distinct smell of summer in the air, despite the calendar saying that autumn should be upon us. It was fantastic to float in the water, feeling it take my not inconsiderable weight. I sculled on my back in the water for a while, with my bump floating up to, and just protruding above, the surface, looking for all the world like a little lost whale. I had to laugh as a limb popped up and prodded the bump as if to say “get moving again mummy”.

The hardest part is always getting out, when I suddenly have to take all my own weight again. My legs feel like lead and it feels as though I have a ton weight strapped to my front. I often swim in the evenings, so I have to get out as the pool approaches closure. This afternoon I had nothing else to do, nowhere to hurry to and no reason to get out. So I spent a good two hours submerged in the water. I definitely felt heavy when I got out, but I felt wonderfully relaxed, which made me feel sort of free too.