We are in uncharted territory this week! I have never even made it to 39 weeks with any of the other kids, much less gone overdue!
I am feeling good - baby dropped a few weeks ago, and now that she is not up in my ribs all the time I am pretty comfortable. No false labor. I had cramps for a couple days between 38-39 weeks, but nothing for the last week. Occasional Braxton Hicks, but barely worth mentioning. Baby seems to be very happy staying in there as long as she can get away with.
She scared me by barely moving one day a couple weeks ago, so I went in for a non-stress test and biological profile. They estimated her to be about 7 lbs, 6 oz. I'm curious to see how big she really is when she comes! I do know that she is big enough that her sudden movements are actually painful, which only happened rarely, if ever, in previous pregnancies. There is just not much room left in there!
A couple weeks ago we had our maternity photo session for Baby #4! I am very pleased with the way they turned out. My dear friend is a photographer, and graciously agreed to take photos for us, and as always she did a fantastic job!
At this point, we have had a lot of maternity shoots (and family photos in general), so I wanted to take this post not only to share our photos with you all, but to share some tips on how you can help ensure that you will love your maternity photos.
Do your research.
I think this is the most important thing to do if you want to end up with maternity photos that you will really like. Search Pinterest, find the photos that jump out at you, and ask yourself the following questions:
-What do you specifically like about these photos?
-What colors/lighting trends do you see in the photos you like?
-What kinds of settings are the photos taken in?
-What are the people wearing in these photos?
-Are there any poses you especially like?
Hopefully as you gather ideas and ask yourself these questions, a common thread will appear. Then your next step is to find a photographer with a similar aesthetic.
Find a photographer with a similar style.
This step was pretty easy for me, because my friend is a photographer who has a style that I love! But for one of our maternity sessions I had to find a different photographer because Danae just had her own sweet baby, so I have some experience with the search too. To find our photographer, I googled "maternity photographer" in my area, and as I searched through the results I was looking for a few specific things:
-How many images you will get from your session, and do you get printing rights?
-Does this photographers style match the style of photos that I like?
For me, it was important that I get a set of images in digital format that I would have a right to reprint and share online (not all photographers offer this), and it was important that the photographer's other work appealed to me and was similar to what I had in mind. Pay attention to the details when picking your photographer!
Pick your clothes carefully.
The first few times we took family photos (especially maternity photos), I was more concerned that whatever clothes I wore made me look as slender as possible. I didn't pay much attention to pattern or colors, aside from making sure we weren't clashing. But as I did a bit more research, I realized that in a lot of ways, the outfits make the photo. Choose your outfits carefully!
-Choose a color scheme. Pay attention to your inspiration photos and figure out if you like bright or subdued colors, and dark or light colors. For me, I figured out that I like our photos best if at least one of us is wearing a lighter color. Then I love to incorporate blue, aqua, or mint to add some color!
-Mix patterns and solids. Patterns can add interest to your photos. If you mix together more than one pattern, just make sure they are dissimilar - like the stripes with the geometric pattern in our photos.
-Reflect your normal style. There is no reason to completely change what you would normally wear, just for photos. Try to find items that will photograph well and are still things that you would actually wear!
-Don't be afraid to wear something more flowy for maternity photos. It took me a while to figure this out, but your clothes for a maternity photo don't have to naturally accentuate your bump all by themselves, because often your photographer will have you put your hands on your belly. So you can hold the fabric under your tummy to define your bump. This opens up a lot more clothing options!
It can be hard to be yourself with a photographer that you may have never met before. Thankfully you are usually taking pictures with family members, so interact with them like you normally would. Smile, tell inside jokes, laugh, poke their stomach - whatever, just try to keep everyone loose and have fun with it! This is easy for me, because Derek and I (especially Derek) are naturally hams, but even if that's not you, do your best. Your pictures turn out better when there are some natural, candid smiles in there (this is coming straight from my dear photographer's mouth). Your photographer will have more fun with your session too, which is great for building a relationship if you continue with the same photographer after your baby comes.
Choose to love your photos.
I think so often women struggle with negative internal talk about how they look in photos, and it can especially happen when someone is not entirely comfortable with their pregnant body. I'm not saying there are not truly bad pictures that should be trashed (like those ones at Thanksgiving that catch you mid-bite), but most photos, especially ones taken by a professional photographer, are not going to fall into that category. This is how you looked when you were carrying a precious new life - this is you and your baby in this moment. Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, and it's not something that can ever be repeated. Quiet that negative self-talk, recognize the beauty of this stage in your life that you have captured in these photos, and love them for that.
What did I miss, guys?
What are your best maternity (or family) photo session tips?
This might be my last pregnancy update (fingers crossed)! I am 38 weeks pregnant, and I have never made it past 39 weeks, so the next baby update could be a birth announcement!
The week before last week was the most uncomfortable week that I have ever spent pregnant. Maybe it is because this is my fourth baby, but my body is taking this pregnancy a lot harder than my last three.
The good news is that Baby has dropped! She was so high for a while there that it hurt to bend over at all, but I am finally able to tie my own shoes again with only reasonable effort. I think this may be part of why this pregnancy has been harder - my other three all started out low. Since she dropped last week, I have been feeling a lot more comfortable and energetic.
You know what I find annoying? The way they, whoever "they" are, decided to move back the marker for reaching "term" in a pregnancy. It used to be 36 weeks back when I was pregnant with Wyatt, and 37 weeks was full term. Now I think 37 weeks is term, and 38 weeks is full term? I don't know, I just know I have reached 36 weeks, which would mean I have reached term if this were four years ago!
Another two weeks have gone by already! I took an un-intentional blog break over the last week and a half, and it was a good break - allowed me time to get things under control before this little girl arrives!
I am now 34 weeks in this pregnancy, and Baby Girl definitely seems to be growing. Her kicks and movements are much stronger. As far as I can tell, she has stayed head-down, and her movements are so much more fun now there her feet are higher! I can feel little limbs and her bum through my belly, and she seems to have gotten a little braver and is interacting with my poking and prodding a little more.
This week I am 32 weeks pregnant with our fourth baby! Only two months (or less) to go.
I am feeling good this week, except for heartburn that is ramping up a little bit. Hopefully this means Baby Girl is growing some hair, but we will see! I have been having Braxton Hicks contractions here and there. I feel like our little girl is doing somersaults in there, because ever since my last doctor's appointment her kicks have been all over the place.
We are into the thirties now! I am thirty weeks today.
We had a doctor's appointment a week or so ago, and I had another ultrasound since they couldn't see everything they needed to last time. The tech was really sweet, and she kind of went over all the anatomy again. It was fun to have practically another whole anatomy scan and spend all that time looking at our girl!
We got a few adorable shots of our little girl's face, and she was so grumpy! She had this little frown on her face the whole time. At one point she scrunched up her face, like she would have let out a loud cry if she was on the outside. It was pretty cute! Apparently she is not a big fan of ultrasounds.
This week I am 22 weeks pregnant! And yes, we know the gender! I’m not gong to spill it until next Monday though, so stay tuned...
Our anatomy ultrasound went well, except for an odd ultrasound tech - but Baby Four looked great! There were a couple structures they couldn’t get a good look at, because the baby was curled into a little ball way down low. I thought it was so funny to see how this baby was laying, because basically he/she was laying sort of transverse, sort of head down, and facing down. Baby Four was curled up with arms and legs tucked in, but he/she was moving the entire time - just moving arms and legs in little circles or tiny stretches! The hands were balled into little fists too, so Baby kind of looked like a tiny little professional boxer, dodging and jabbing. It was so cute!
In addition to the positioning, I also found out I have an anterior placenta - which explains why I wasn’t feeling as much movement. Baby was moving constantly, but I couldn’t feel most of it because of the tight tucking in and placenta.
I am feeling good, though I have definitely been getting more lower back pain the last couple weeks - and I wonder if it has something to do with the way Baby was laying. All my other kids were in a nice head down position at their anatomy ultrasounds, so this one is doing his/her own thing. It probably also wouldn’t hurt to get a chiropractic adjustment - my back muscles actually cramped up on my right side the other day to the point where I couldn’t move without pain. My brother had to come over to help me get the kids out of the car (we just got home), and I had to lay on the couch for an hour before it finally felt normal again. So an adjustment might be in order.
I have been feeling the baby move way more ever since the ultrasound, which makes me think maybe he/she changed position (or maybe just got bigger). I am so glad, because baby movement is my favorite part of pregnancy and it is finally starting to pick up! The movements are mostly really low down, but I have felt a few nudges above my belly button too, so I’m not sure what Baby is doing in there. I felt like I could almost feel a couple kicks from the outside, which is exciting! I’m hoping Derek can feel the baby soon.
The kids are being so cute about the pregnancy, as always. Wyatt will randomly comment about how my tummy is getting bigger, and Gwen points sometimes and says “There’s a baby in der.” Clyde has no clue what is going on, but he gives me kisses all the time (he is my kissiest baby to date), and sometimes if I’m laying on the couch he’ll kiss my tummy, which is adorable!
Preparations? Nothing new for the baby’s actual arrival, but we have our gender reveal part coming up on Saturday! Though I am starting to worry about how it will go. I was so excited to do an outdoor party at a park this time around, but for the last 2-3 weeks it was been raining almost every day - so I am praying that we don’t get rained out! I’m crossing my fingers that we won’t get any major weather that day and can proceed as planned.
Maternity Outfit Details:
Jean jacket - Target (similar style)
Black lace top - Forever 21
Necklace - A gift from my MOPS secret sister, Lindsay! So I'm not sure where. (similar style)
Patterned trouser pants - Target
Black sandals - Payless, a long time ago (similar style)
And can I talk for a minute about this spring/summer's fashion and say that I am so glad there are so many stretchy waistbands? I wasn't sure about the whole palazzo/lounge pant trend at first, but then it occurred to me that these pants are perfect for pregnancy. So comfortable, and hopefully I can get a bit more use out of them next summer too!
I will have the big announcement up on the blog next Monday, but if you haven’t had a chance to vote on what you think the baby is, you can fill out the form below!
Someone who gets it right will be getting a Starbucks on me, just for fun. I’m excited for everyone to know! It’s been challenging avoiding baby conversations and watching my words so I don’t let it slip!
Check back next week for the news!
One of the frustrations with maternity clothes is that since options are pretty limited, it is very likely that at least one other pregnant lady in your vicinity owns the same item of clothing as you. And none of us like that thought (even though it's probably true of most of our non-maternity items too). Two bits of advice for making sure you don't end up wearing the same outfit as one of the other pregnant ladies in your MOPS group . . .
1. Take advantage of all your non-maternity pieces. It might be likely that someone else is wearing the same maternity top as you, but it is not very likely that another pregnant lady will be wearing the same non-maternity item as you! I feel like all my non-maternity-but-works-during-pregnancy clothes have kept my pregnancy wardrobe more interesting and unique in general. I also never really worry about another pregnant lady wearing the same stretchy shirt that I bought at Forever 21 (or wherever). So if you are going somewhere where pregnant women will be attending in force, something non-maternity is probably your safest bet.
(I was trying to decide which picture to include here and realized that nothing in this outfit was actually maternity! Safe to say no other pregnant ladies would be wearing the same outfit.)
2. Accessories, cardigans, and jackets are your friends. Someone else might have the same shirt as you, but will they pair it with a cardigan and belt the same way you do? Will they wear the same jacket and scarf as you? Probably not. If you are looking to keep your own style and not be caught wearing the same exact outfit as another pregnant woman, change it up with some different accessories and layering pieces! Even if people notice that you and another person are wearing the same item, you most likely won't be "twins".
(I think this top that I got from Pink Blush is a pretty popular seller, but it's unlikely the other pregnant women who bought it also have the same non-maternity red jacket that I paired it with here.)
Overall, when maternity shopping, I'd say just to look for pieces that you feel good in. It's hard enough dressing a pregnant body without feeling like all your clothes make you look huge. If you try something on and it makes you feel good about the way you look, get it! Feel pretty wearing it. All pregnant women are special and gorgeous - there is such a thing as a pregnant glow, but sometimes it's hard to feel the "glow" when you are the pregnant girl. Finding maternity clothes that make you feel cute helps with that.
And that concludes my advice on What To Wear When You Are Pregnant. If you are wondering where I got any specific items that I've worn, just shoot me an email and I'll tell you!
There are a handful of stores where most of my maternity clothes have come from - here are my thoughts on each (in no particular order).
Target. I have found a lot of cute things at Target over the years, as I'm sure many other pregnant ladies could tell you as well. Most of my maternity tops are from Target. However, Target is not fool-proof. I have been really disappointed in their selection over the last winter season - in my first two pregnancies it seemed like I was always finding cute maternity clothes there, but this time around nothing has caught my eye.
Forever 21. I mentioned already that I usually look for non-maternity tops and bottoms that will work when I'm pregnant, and I've had the most success at Forever 21. I sometimes expect weird looks from people when they see I'm shopping there, since I'm usually obviously pregnant, but so far I haven't noticed anyone give me a second glance. However, if you do choose to shop at Forever 21, be considerate! You are pregnant, after all - don't try on something that has no stretch to it. Your belly might stretch the item out and make it hard to sell if you don't buy it. Thankfully a large majority of their items are stretchy, so I haven't had too much of a problem with this.
Old Navy/Gap. I mostly order from Old Navy and Gap online, since I can never find what I'm looking for in the store. Thankfully they are amazing for returns! I have found a pair of skinny jeans at Old Navy that fit well, and a couple tops from Old Navy and Gap, but unfortunately most of their maternity items are too baggy or otherwise unflattering on me.
Kohls. I have had precious little luck with maternity clothes at Kohls. I found one pair of pants there when I was pregnant with Wyatt . . . I think that might be it.
Motherhood Maternity. I have bought a couple items from Motherhood Maternity. Their clothes usually fit me fairly well - the reason I don't have more clothes from them is that they are pretty expensive in comparison to the other places I shop! I just don't want to pay a lot for clothes that I will only be wearing for a little while.
Pink Blush Maternity. This is the first pregnancy that I have ordered anything from Pink Blush. What I like - they have an amazing selection! Better than any other store where I've shopped for maternity clothes. And their stuff is cute. The downside is that it's an online company, so you can't try any of it on before you buy. I ordered a top from them that I used in some of my maternity photos, and a cardigan (I know, I said maternity cardigans were silly, but this one was cute, and it's something I can also wear when I'm not pregnant). The thing I noticed is that the top and cardigan I ordered both seemed to run ever-so-slightly big - they are probably geared more toward the very end of pregnancy. I probably would be fairly safe ordering a size down from normal. I can't say anything for the sizes of their dresses or pants since I only ordered tops.
I'm curious to hear about any stores that you other moms have liked for maternity clothes! These seem to be the major ones that I've heard of (or at least the major ones in my area), but if you have found good stuff at a place I didn't mention, please share!
I'm continuing my series on building a maternity wardrobe today - if you missed my first post (my thoughts about maternity pants), you can check it out here!
I have a few thoughts when it comes to finding cute tops and outerwear when you are pregnant.
1. Don't limit yourself to the maternity section. You would be surprised at how many non-maternity tops will work (and look cute) while you are pregnant. And I don't just mean the looser, flower styles that have room for a belly. You can find fitted tops too.
2. Look for tops that are extra-long. My favorite place to look for tops is Forever 21, because they sell "bodycon dresses". These are basically skin-tight, super-mini "dresses" that I would never in my life actually wear as a dress. Why do they work? Because they are usually made of stretchy fabric, and they are long. Anything that is stretchy is good for obvious reasons, and if you can find something that would normally hit just past your bum, you can take the fabric and bunch it up so it will accommodate your pregnant belly. Like this:
(Baby #3 at 32 weeks - this lace top was one of those Forever 21 "dresses".)
(28 weeks with Gwen in a "dress" that I just bunched up around my belly. This one is so stretchy that it looks fine even when I'm not pregnant.)
(Almost 39 weeks pregnant with Gwen - that is a non-maternity top too.)
All of those tops are just long shirts or dresses. I usually buy a size larger than my normal size (one size larger will still fit relatively well in the shoulder/chest area, but it will give you more room in the tummy).
3. Look for things that will work during and after pregnancy. The major plus to buying extra-long non-maternity shirts or dresses is that they usually work well after you are no longer pregnant too! When you shrink back to your regular size you can wear them as a tunic with leggings, or if you are done having kids you could probably even shorten them to shirt length. Obviously it helps a lot if the fabric has some stretch to it, because it will be less likely to stretch out too much in the belly. I wore/plan on wearing all the shirts I showed you above after I have this baby too.
4. Sweaters and jackets always work, whether you are pregnant or not. I think the open maternity cardigans that some stores sell are so funny, because they are basically no different than a regular old non-maternity open cardigan. If you want a cardigan or jacket that will button over your belly, you'll need to go to a maternity store - but open jackets and cardigans look just fine. I wear all my regular sweaters and jackets unbuttoned when I'm pregnant, or I might throw a belt around a cardigan over my belly. Save yourself a little money and just stick with non-maternity cardigans and jackets.
(The jacket Derek gave me for Christmas, 23.5 weeks pregnant here.)
5. Layering tanks. I haven't bothered with maternity layering tanks. The ones I usually buy when I'm not pregnant are these inexpensive, exra-stretchy ones at Charlotte Russe. My regular ones fit during the first half of my pregnancies, and then I have a couple of the same layering tanks in the next size up for the second half. Toward the very end of my pregnancies they have a hard time stretching all the way around my belly, but for the most part they fit great.
6. Coats. I have no advice on where to buy a maternity coat. Even though I have been pregnant during the winter all three times, I have not bothered to buy a maternity coat. I just couldn't bring myself to spend the money. When I was pregnant with Wyatt, I went to Ross (yay discount stores!), and found a coat/jacket that had a good amount of stretch to it, and it lasts all the way through my pregnancies (I can even button it up all the way!). For the most part I just wear my regular coats and jackets open, or I use my Ross faux-maternity coat, and I just don't stay outside that long. Would a maternity coat be worth the money? In hindsight, yes, it probably would have been worth it for me since I have been largely pregnant in the winter months all three times, but there was no way of knowing that beforehand. If my next babies had been summer babies the maternity coat would have only been used once. You just have to decide whether it's okay for you to buy a coat that you might only wear one winter in your life.
Check back soon for a post on the stores where I shop!
Shopping for clothes when you are pregnant can be challenging. Finding stores that sell maternity clothes is just the first step - you have to find them, and then you have to find the select few items that fit well and don't make you feel like a whale.
This is my third pregnancy, so I've had a little practice, and I have specific maternity clothes shopping tricks. I also have a few places that are my favorite places to shop when I have a little one on the way. Since I was asked recently where I shop for maternity clothes, I thought I'd write a post and let you all in on my strategy!
When I actually sat down to write about maternity clothes I found I had a lot more to say than I thought, so I'm going to split this into a few posts to make it more manageable.
Today let's talk about pants.
Maternity pants can be so frustrating - I have found precious few that have actually fit me. Maternity pants designers seem to think all the baby weight will go directly to your behind - but for me, I actually lost whatever extra "padding" I had back there when I was pregnant with Wyatt.
The pants I have found that fit have been from Old Navy, Kohls, and Motherhood Maternity, but they were the exceptions - most of the ones I tried on at those stores didn't fit me well. This isn't a problem for all pregnant women, but it's one of my biggest maternity wardrobe challenges.
Because of this, I have two main strategies for pants.
1. Stay in my non-maternity pants as long as possible. I use the rubber band trick, Belly Bands, and long layering tanks to make my regular pants work as long as I can. This works better than you might think. I was able to stay in my regular jeans for 6-7 months with this baby before I had to start resorting to my maternity pants.
2. Buy a size up. When I was pregnant the second time, after my regular pants started getting too uncomfortable, I went to Forever 21 (mainly because they have cheap, stretchy jeans) and I bought some jeans that were a size bigger than my normal size. I could actually button them! Though they were a little baggier in the legs than my normal pants, the waist and bottom fit alright because of my growing belly. Those jeans also ended up being great postpartum pants too - for that awkward period when you don't want to wear maternity clothes anymore, but you can't fit back into your old size just yet.
(I was so excited when I found this pair of pants at Papaya when I was around 22 weeks pregnant - they are a bit bigger than my non-pregnant size, so they still buttoned comfortably for several more weeks of my pregnancy. I think I got them for $5 on clearance? The stitching on the side makes them unique for maternity wear, and they'll be perfect for those first several weeks postpartum too!)
Are non-maternity pants comfortable when you are pregnant? No, not as comfortable as maternity pants. But if you have trouble finding maternity pants that fit (like I do), actually feeling good in your clothes might be worth a little discomfort when you are going out. I just change into my lounge pants when I get home.
Finally, when you just can't stretch the non-maternity pants anymore, the only piece of advice I have is to search high and low and try on every pair of maternity pants you see until you find a pair that works. I have yet to find a store that carries maternity pants that I know will fit - I have just found a few pairs scattered here and there. When you finally find a pair that fits, it's pretty satisfying!