Monday, August 27, 2018

Maternity garb, Part III: for when you're a sphere

As best as I can tell, pregnancy has two phases: the bit where it's hard to know if the whole thing is real, and the one where it's this tremendous effort to get out of bed or off the couch or out of a chair, can't bend over, can't go more than two hours without eating, can't bear the oppressive heat of weather over 65F, and pregnancy feels not only real but eternal. I've gone from not entirely believing I was pregnant to not remembering what it felt like not to be.

This second phase seems to coincide with passersby noting my sphericalness, and accurately noting the cause. It's hard for me to criticize them for this, as the interest has been manifesting itself mainly as concern: the man in the supermarket warning me not to slip on some spilled bulk red lentils.... because. Or the pastry-shop barista glancing at my midsection, then alerting me to the fact that their cappuccino normally comes with two shots of espresso. (I avoided the slippery lentils, and requested a cappuccino with one shot, all the while realizing every other espresso-based coffee out I've been having — not many, but not none — has probably had two.) Concern, or congratulations, sometimes with an "is this your first?", a friendly, small-talk question I don't blame anyone for asking, but one that nevertheless serves as a reminder that I am in fact 10,000 years old. I have yet to be criticized for Doing X While Pregnant, but this could well be because I don't do anything remotely interesting, unless going to a supermarket that sells bulk lentils counts.

But back to the theme of this series: shopping. Parts I and II addressed the question of what to wear when nothing fits. This, the third installment, is about when nothing fits, and you're also incredibly sweaty and uncomfortable. Here's what seems to be working:

-Men's t-shirts. All-cotton, and the cheaper the better. These will do; bought them in black and white, and they seem to shrink nicely but not excessively in the dryer. The main thing is for t-shirts to be long enough. That and not to wear existing now-far-too-tight ones, even if they do kind of fit (as in, are long enough), because "kind of" isn't cutting it, not for the sweat situation.

-The more tent-like of cotton t-shirt dresses. This seemed expensive for what it is but was very much worth it.

-Slip-on shoes. If you can't bend over, laced sneakers are tricky, although I have a pair of running-turned-regular sneakers that can kind of function as slip-ons. Mainly, though, it's either the Birkenstocks or the mules. The plan for colder weather: slip-on Frye boots from 2011, which I've already had re-heeled and de-salted in anticipation.

-Shameful but true: the NYMag recommended Lululemon Align leggings. The cropped in navy, and the full-length (or in my case, "7/8" length) in black. In retrospect I should have just gotten the full-length black ones, since every time it's been too warm for long leggings, cropped have been a bad idea in that regard as well. I did not need two pairs of these.

And here's what hasn't worked, or has proven more daunting:

-Painter's overalls. I don't know. I had this fantasy of finding the (white, industrial) overalls worn by some patissier contestants in a French professional-baking competition, but hadn't quite thought this through, and will be learning how one returns this from non-Amazon Amazon dealers. (They're both enormous and too-small, with an extra added bit of ill-fitting in the chest area.) Because I live in hope, and because they were at last reduced into the cheap-rather-than-moderate threshold, I have gone and ordered a pair of white actually-maternity overalls from an Etsy seller in Latvia. 

-Sweaters? Some blips of slightly cooler weather alerted me to the fact that my maternity garb is all summer-wear, which, living in Toronto, may pose a problem. Of my existing sweaters, a couple seem like they sort of fit now, which means who knows re: a month from now, while the rest either don't or aren't even worth trying.

The wide world of sweaters I don't already own has proven tricky. I became fixated on the notion of a drapey sweater that doesn't close, thereby eliminating size concerns. This led me to a weekend-long (well, part of the weekend) quest to track down the (absurdly-named) Diderot sweater at Aritzia. Sold out! Oh no! Except in the branch where they still had it, and it was... not an attractive garment, at least not once on. It's one of those things where it's not entirely clear how it's meant to be worn. A similarly spacious wrap sweater at the same store was a whole lot better but also $178 (!!!) which is unfathomably more than I'd spend on a regular sweater so definitely not in the cards where maternity's concerned. Then there was the actual maternity store in the mall, which... doesn't really sell sweaters?, but which did have some impressively hideous fitted-track-suit-jacket-type things.

Anyway. I wound up with this, from a millennial-oriented concept shop of all places, because the garment is unquestionably big/long enough, and is sort of pretty maybe?, and because $40 is not $178.

-Baby stuff? This has involved a lot of browsing but, as yet, no purchasing.

-A two-bedroom apartment? This too has involved much browsing but no purchasing.


Miss Self-Important said...

My grad school advisor told me when I was pregnant that having kids made him feel like a real and useful member of society for the first time. This was true for me in the sense that strangers started to trust and respect me in a way I had not previously experienced. Not that people assumed I was a criminal before (although I do think strangers are generally warier of youngish single men than men toting kids), but once I was visibly pregnant and even more so when I was out with my baby, random strangers suddenly wanted to chat with me all the time. I totally loved it and found no question too nosy or annoying. People are going out of their way to be helpful and friendly! Even if sometimes I personally would not say what they did, why would we discourage this behavior?

Also, I have many suggestions for baby stuff suitable for cities and small apartments. We had a 2BD when my daughter was born but the other room was our office and remained our office (office with crib, eventually). Very little of what is advertised as baby gear is necessary for either your comfort or the baby's.

Miss Self-Important said...

Also, how do those high-rise leggings work for pregnancy? Does the band go over your belly, or do you fold it down under?

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Curious about those suggestions! The goal is very much to avoid buying unnecessary gear, although an entire lack of gear probably won't work. The sleep set-up and stroller seem necessary, as (despite carlessness) does a car seat. The changing table dresser is generally discussed as unnecessary, but seeing as we could use another dresser and IKEA has decent-seeming ones, that may happen.

As for the leggings, they're made out of this miracle material that stretches without either getting too tight or getting stretched out. So they can be worn either way, at least thus far (almost 6 months). Also I went two sizes up from my leggings usual.

And... yeah, am not annoyed at stranger comments, or at least not at the ones I've been getting. But it seems ugh for the world to assume someone's only useful once they've procreated, not least because past a certain age, many/most who haven't, it's in one way or another not by choice.

lilennox said...

I spent the entirety of both third-trimester phases wearing the following items:

-very stretchy maternity skinny jeans w/the gigantic over-belly waistband (dark wash x1, dark gray x1)
-Old Navy maternity tank tops

That's it, plus occasional non-maternity cardigans as needed. For me, this was the easiest phase for clothing. First trimester was "everything technically still fits but feels awful," while second trimester was "still trying to wear an interesting variety of outfits to work and socially."

AND THEN there's the question of what to wear post-maternity, which was the very worst - maternity clothes are designed to be (blandly) flattering, but do not work for bodies in the aftermath of giving birth, and neither do non-maternity clothes (even going up in size from pre-pregnancy). I nearly had a nervous breakdown about what to wear to work until I discovered those office-style yoga pants.

Miss Self-Important said...

Well, you're not only useful then. In terms of market productivity, we can get a lot more labor out of you if you skip the kids. But you may be trustworthy and invested in the world in a way the childless aren't, even if their childlessness is unintended and undesired. It certainly won't be true of all parents, but if you have to make a quick judgment of trustworthiness on the spot (should I ask for directions if I am lost from this guy walking alone with his collar up and his eyes down, or this young lady pushing a stroller cooing to her kid?), it's probably not a bad one. As far as the slightly different phenomenon of unsolicited conversation goes, babies offer a conversation starter to strangers that very little else about you does (it being usually rude to comment on your appearance beyond complimenting your clothes). So highly sociable people seeking to make casual connections are understandably highly drawn to mothers. But all women who take part in childrearing, including babysitters and aunts and grandmothers, benefit from this improved public perception, so it's not actually exclusive to mothers; it just falls to them most since they usually spend the most time with their kids.

About baby gear, I will email you.

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