The Second Pregnancy Roundup – Indulgences & Non-Essentials

(NB: I wrote the majority of this in the week before I had my baby! next post will be about the first 2 months)

My last post was about things that I found pretty darn necessary for basic comfort levels during my pregnancy. I thought I’d write one up about some little luxuries and things that have helped but aren’t necessary for everyone. Hey, whatever takes my mind off the fact that I’m at full term but no sign of baby yet, huh? kill me

Maternity Clothing Subscription

Ok so this one is a particularly indulgent luxury, I thought I’d get it out of the way first. I LOVE LeTote. Basically, I pay $69 a month and I get boxes of maternity clothes and accessories sent to me as often as I want. A little less basic: I fill up my  “closet” with lots of cool dresses, pants, shirts, tops, blouses, scarves, bracelets, rings – you get the point – and they send a box containing 3 items of clothing and 2 accessories, curated from my “closet” by the LeTote team. They send you an email when your box is made up (typically, they send this within an hour of you lodging your free return bag at the PO), and you have a chance to replace items with other things if you have a particular event or anything like that. This is where it hugely differs from other subscriptions like Gwynnie Bee etc. I love this feature. Then they send the box pretty promptly. I don’t think there’s been a week that’s gone by since I joined up that I haven’t received a box in the mail unless I’ve taken longer to wear all the items. You can also opt to keep items if you want, always at a reduced price. I kept some amazing, thick leggings/pants with cool raised pleats over the knees that made me feel like a cool biker chick YEAH! I have kept a couple of really nice scarves and some jewellery as well. There were several dresses and tops I wanted to keep but it was hard to justify because they were relatively expensive and it’s maternity wear so I didn’t feel super keen on spending a tonne. You just keep whatever you want and when they get the bag back with your returned clothing they charge you for what you kept. Note: this is a really good way to spend a lot of money so be careful!

It also has a normal (non-maternity) range and you can get fewer items for a cost reduction. I just found this combo to be a good balance. If LeTote sounds like something you’d like to try, use my referral link and you can get your first tote free!

Jacket Extender

This is one of those things that you might not need unless, like me, you live in the frickin Arctic tundra and need to wear a huge puffy coat just to survive the lurch from car to front door. As your belly expands, unfortunately, most coats do not. Did I want to spend another $300 on a coat? No! I like the one I have! So I searched “jacket extenders” and found Make My Belly Fit! It sounded like exactly what I wanted. It requires a little bit of research – basically you need to check your jacket’s zip configuration and might need to order a zip adapter but I didn’t (thanks, North Face). I also bought a fleecy panel to go inside the extender and that was a decidedly excellent decision – it’s been getting down to -30C/-23F here and it’s only December! It’s a Canadian website but the shipping was really fast. The extender panel was $51 which is a bargain compared to buying another coat. You can use it after pregnancy too – right now the snaps are popped open at the bottom for my positively-planetary belly but soon they’ll be popped open at the top for wearing that sweet little bundle in a wrap under my coat to keep him warm. You know where else he’s warm? Inside my body right now, APPARENTLY, SINCE HE WON’T GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE, UGH, CHILD, DO NOT MAKE ME COME IN THERE BECAUSE GOD HELP ME I WILL well I won’t, but a doctor might. Ok I’m fine. I’m taking deep breaths.

Good provider/OBGYN etc

One of those most baffling things I encountered about America when we started talking about having a baby was that hospitals just have doctors and nurses. Midwives are still this kind of semi-controversial concept. The reasoning seems to be that you can be a “lay-midwife” ie have no formal training at all and just witness a certain amount of births and call yourself a midwife, but most midwives who work in hospitals or health facilities are “CNMs” or Certified Nurse Midwives. Anyway it was all a bit confusing to me as I was so used to labor wards with both midwives and doctors working together (not always in harmony but still).

The local hospital here doesn’t allow midwives on staff, nor do they allow doulas or extra support people in the birthing suites. I had some other issues too but this isn’t the place. LUCKILY, we had a lot of people recommending the amazing Porter Women’s Health to us, just a short 50 minute drive north in beautiful Middlebury. They have a combined staff of OBGYNs and midwives, and an amazing nursing staff too. They’re great. It’s exactly what I wanted. I barely need a birth plan because all my ideas run in line with theirs. They’re very women focused while still being research based and medically safe. The crunch level is low, which is my favorite level of crunch, but I have never felt condescended to and I love that they have you see all the different providers so that when you go into labor you aren’t seeing a strange face no matter who’s on call. Th

Anyway, this is just on this post because not everyone has a) the insurance or b) the proximity to places like this and I feel so privileged to have both of those things.

Pregnancy Massage

About halfway through my pregnancy, well no I guess it was about 26 weeks, I started getting back pain. Par for the course with pregnancy but I had been relatively comfortable so far, so the fact that I not only had aches in my back but also sciatica (nerve pain shooting down my right buttock into my right thigh at will) was quite a shock. It was pretty horrible. I’d been thinking about getting some pregnancy massage so I called a local lady that I know who I knew would do a great job – Christina at Vermont Vitality Studio. I turned up for my appointment and it was great, right from the start. We talked about what particular aches and pains I was having and she very carefully propped me up on the table with pillows to make sure I was comfy and my bump was supported. I was extremely relaxed by the end of the appointment – I did not realise how much my gait had altered until I could walk normally again. It was so nice.

I continued to get massages each month of my pregnancy, my last one was just a week ago. At about $80 for 50 mins it’s not cheap, but your insurance might cover it (it blows my mind that some insurances cover chiropractics but not therapeutic massage).

Amazon Registry

Registries seem to be kind of a contentious topic sometimes. In America most people have a registry. I hadn’t been to a lot of baby showers in Australia but the latest one I went to also had a registry. I think it’s genius because then you don’t end up with 5000 of the same thing. The only double ups I got were because people REALLY wanted to make sure I had this particular item that they found INCREDIBLY useful, and it turned out someone had already bought it from the registry so it had disappeared.

With Amazon you also get $150 worth of free diaper stuff (wipes included) when people spend $1000 on your registry which didn’t take long with my lovely mum involved! You also get a free ebook, and a discount of about 15% for Prime members on the remainder of your registry when your gift-getting time is over (ie after the baby shower for us).

You can add whatever you want to your registry – they have a button you can add to your browser to add anything from any site to your Amazon baby registry. Sadly there’s no way for Amazon to know if those things were purchased from the registry but still, pretty cool idea!

Right. I’m going to post this now because if I don’t, I never will, and I need to get on with the post-pregnancy ..posts. There will be those. Oh, there will be…

 

 

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The First Pregnancy Roundup

Wow so yeah. Sorry. I really let things go by the wayside the last like 9 months or so. I’m nearly 39 weeks pregnant now and this pregnancy has really been characterised by one thing: exhaustion. It came in waves, but it was never not there. I’ve been super tired the whole time. It’s a symptom I’ll take over some less-pleasant others (nausea for example, from which I only suffered for about 4 weeks), but it has still been varying levels of debilitating and blogging just wasn’t a priority. I didn’t even post much on instagram. Turns out growing a human is hard, and with working up to 37 weeks I had stuff to do.

Anyway, I’m nearly at the end now (please god let it be over soon, kid is wrecking my shit) and I thought I’d run through a few things that I’ve found to be quite useful throughout the last three-quarters-of-a-year, in no particular order.

Pregnancy Pillow

I bought the LeachCo Snoogle Pillow. It’s great. I think I got it when I was about 12 weeks along, because my back and hips were already a little janky (though nothing like the absolute mess and tangle of bone and sinew that they are now, ugh) and the first time I laid myself down in its loving embrace, I was sold. It’s really great. It has a couple of drawbacks. One is that if you run hot throughout your pregnancy, as I did, you might find yourself being very comfortable but a little overheated, and you’ll kick it out of the bed anyway. Another is that it takes up quite a bit of room and if you have a queen sized bed or less, your partner may have a severely restricted amount of room. The last is something that I’ve just come across recently and that is that I can really only lie on one side for so long, so I want to turn over a lot (like, a lot, and seeing as how it requires a business case and strategic planning meetings to do that, it’s really annoying) and that is next to impossible with the Snoogle. So next time around I might go for something simpler like one of the bean-shaped pillows that just support your back and belly. But in saying that, the fact that you can really tuck yourself in to this pillow is lovely, and it does have the section that goes between your legs to help with hip discomfort. So I have no regrets. It’s even great for propping up a baby etc after it arrives, or so I’m told!

Maternity Bras

My boobs have cycled through various levels of intense discomfort. Sometimes they feel normal (they look huge but feel normal). I was recommended the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra and well let’s just say I now own four of them. Yes they’re expensive,  but worth the investment, I truly feel. Super soft, easy to put on, easy to un-snap for nursing (I’ve been practicing), nice and stretchy, all that good stuff. Are they the best support you’ll ever have? No obv, they have no underwire, but what are you gonna do in it, go for a run or something? Get over yourself.

Belly Band

These are a lifesaver for when you really want to wear something that still mostly fits, apart from the gaping hole at your abdomen because you are starting to show and that’s how physics works. My amazing friend Corinne actually gave me mine, but I’ve heard great things about this one. I really liked it and wore it all the time, particularly over shorts during summer. Gosh those days seem so far away now that it’s December in Vermont and below freezing. But anyway, grab yourself one of these. They even feel good with their support and their holding you in and whatnot.

A No-Bullshit Book

I absolutely loved Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong, and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster, who is an economist at the University of Chicago. The beauty of Emily is that she’s not a midwife or a doctor (and she makes this very clear throughout the book) but she is someone who deals with numbers and statistics as part of her job and so what she does is takes what research and studies there are on things related to pregnancy (caffeine intake, alcohol intake, labor outcomes etc) and sees what they’re really saying. Of course, as she points out, it’s very hard to get definitively accurate information on pregnancy because performing studies on pregnant women is, at best, unethical (can you imagine? “Ok so you guys are gonna have 10 alcoholic drinks every single day and you guys are gonna have none. Cool?”). But she does her best with what there is, and the book really calmed my anxious brain. Well, a little.

Preggie Pop Drops

Ok it sounds silly because technically it’s just candy but for some reason these really worked for reducing nausea for me. They were another gift from Corinne and let’s be real she’s just the ultimate pregnancy fairy godmother and I can’t thank her enough for the box of goodies she sent me early in my pregnancy. Speaking of which!

Stretch Mark Cream

Everybody has different preferences, scent/packaging etc, but I really loved the bottle that Corinne sent me which was Palmers Cocoa Butter Stretch Mark Massage Lotion. Let me be clear: I fully understand that you can’t really prevent stretch marks in the vast majority of cases. If they’re coming, they’re coming, and it’s mostly genetic. BUT! I have a tonne of stretch marks from my previous life as a teenager whose boobs and curves exploded out all at once and since I used this stuff from very early in pregnancy I don’t have a single one. In saying that, a lot of people say that they appear right at the end. I feel like I’m right at the end now and I still haven’t seen a sign of one. If I get them I don’t care a single bit – the ones I have already on other parts of my body are super faded and silvery so it’s no biggie. Midwives and my doula have all commented on the fact that I don’t have any. Is it because of the cream? I honestly have no idea. What I’ve been doing is squirting out one pump of this and one pump of a little bottle of Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil with Vitamin E that my friend Jaime sent me along with about a thousand onesies from my favorite brands in Australia. Then I mix those together between my palms and give my belly and sides a good rub. If nothing else, it feels good when the skin gets a bit itchy and dry, and it’s nice bonding time too. I often take that time to have a little chat to LB (our nickname for the baby) about whatever I want, this week’s subject has been “what if you didn’t mash your skull into my cervix or bladder at every opportunity though? Just work with me here.”

There are a few other things that are less tangible. An incredibly supportive partner who never judges you when you tell him you ate 4 packets of ramen, or who holds you when you cry hysterically about the fact that your landlord mowed the lawn so the woodchucks who lived under the patio now have to re-make their protective tunnels. Bonus if he agrees to read something like The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin and it totally changes his perspective on labor and suddenly you have your own built in at home prenatal doula.

Oh and that reminds me – a doula (if it is in your budget or covered by your insurance). A lot of people in my life will laugh at this because I was always a bit disparaging about doulas but you know what? I was wrong. Everyone needs a little extra help. Especially since my mum can’t be with me for the birth. It helps so much to know that she’ll be on my side, advocating for me, cajoling me when I need it and bossing me (and Ray) around when I need that too, because that’s bound to happen.

The last thing is, a sense of humour and a backbone. People are gonna ask stupid fucking questions, constantly. Your body is gonna do some weird shit. Some of it will be embarrassing. Some of it will be scary, and it’s ok to be scared. People who had perfect pregnancies or people who forget what it was like to be pregnant AND ESPECIALLY people who have never been pregnant love to tell you that whatever’s meant to be will be, that all you have to do is relax and enjoy the pregnancy, and that pregnancy is beautiful and wonderful and magical and natural. Those people appear whenever you have the AUDACITY to complain about some of the extreme discomfort, illness, fear, anxiety, body image issues that come with pregnancy. Where do they even come from!? Nobody  knows. Feel free to tell them to shut up. Other people who can shut up: people who tell you their horrible birth stories totally unprompted. People who act entitled to information about your baby, pregnancy, birth etc. People who tell you to get plenty of sleep now because you’ll LITERALLY NEVER SLEEP AGAIN EVER after the baby comes. People who tell you that if you don’t give birth exactly how they did you’re totally DOING IT WRONG. But there are people you should keep around, too. There are wonderful people who will help you every step of the way, who will never judge you, who will answer your stupidest questions, who will bring you your weird food cravings right when you need them the most, who will be there for you when you’re scared and sad and sick. There are people who have no idea what you’re going through but who will be there for you anyway. You keep those people close! Hold them tight and never let them go. Those people are golden. And so are you. You got this.

I think I’ll write another blog post about some cool but not totally necessary luxuries I’ve found useful as well so stand by for that. But this one is long enough, I think!