3 tips for maternity dressing

I'm 11 weeks pregnant as off this week (11.5, really) and it's starting to show. They weren't joking about showing early the second time around! Although, I did show early with Xavier too, so maybe it's just how my body carries a babe, who knows. At any rate, I've figured out some quick tips that make getting dressed and, more importantly, feeling good, a lot easier. Pregnancy is a wild ride, especially if you've honed in on your style and live within a capsule wardrobe, because all of that sort of goes out the window when your size literally changes with each week. But there are some tricks to getting through it with a bit more ease, and I'm sharing those today!

MY BEST TIPS FOR GETTING DRESSED WHILE PREGNANT

1. Take everything out of your closet that doesn't fit. I learned this the hard way about halfway through my pregnancy with Xavier. I would put something on, realize it didn't fit or didn't fit the way I wanted, then hang it right back up or put it back in the drawer, only to repeat the process again a week later. It's hard to have your favorite clothes staring you in the face every day when they no longer fit. For me, it was just a reminder of how much my body had changed. Yes, I was growing a human and yes, I was so grateful for that, but it was just hard to feel so unlike myself in every way and having clothes I loved but could no longer wear in full view made it harder. I started to put things out of sight when I realized they no longer fit. In an under-bed box or a tote in your closet, wherever works for you, just get it out of sight and out of mind. Nowadays, I store my maternity clothes in one of the drawers built into our bed, but just swapped out some non-maternity stuff in my regular dresser that no longer fits. So the stuff that doesn't fit is out of sight, and I only have things that DO fit accessible.

2. Create a solid outfit formula. Coming up with a solid formula that you know you love will make it so much easier to get dressed and, more importantly, feel good. So far, my formula this time around is leggings, breezy top + drapey cardigan or outer layer. I like to wear drapey, oversize things in my first trimester - mostly all of my normal clothes - while my belly gets bigger but doesn't really look like a baby bump yet, more like I just ate too much Chipotle. When it's clear that there's a babe in there, I like to switch to tighter fitting silhouettes, otherwise I feel like I'm wearing a tent. When I reach my late second and third trimesters, I feel like the loose-fitting stuff just makes me look large, not cute-pregnant. Does that make any sense? So later this winter and into spring, I'll switch to leggings, a fitted tshirt and a drapey cardigan or shawl. Also, don't underestimate accessories! A statement necklace and a favorite pair of earrings will go a long way in making you feel put together and more like yourself.

3. Play dress up and plan specific outfits. This is a game-changer. There will be days when you wake up and just feel large and like you have nothing to wear. Those were the days in my last pregnancy when I would impulse shop and end up buying something I really didn't love just because I was sad and thought something new would fill the void. This time, I'm coming into it more prepared. Set aside an hour one day when you're feeling good, and play dress-up. Come up with a handful of outfits you love (5-8, to start), and snap photos of each on your phone. Save the photos to an album, or even print them on and hang them in your closet to be inspiration on those I'm-so-pregnant-and-nothing-fits days. 

Any other tried-and-true tips or tricks? I'd love to hear. I'm trying to give myself grace this time around and not get so hung up on body image, which was a major struggle with my last pregnancy. We'll see how it goes! Happy Friday, sweet friends!

Thoughts on Baby #2

Earlier this week, I posted on Instagram asking for feedback on what kinds of posts people wanted to see on this ol' blog. One sweet follower said something that really resonated with me. She said: "thoughts on bringing a second life into the world! Why you chose to have them close in age and whether you would like more children close in age and how you would handle this." And I really wanted to share some honest, vulnerable, raw thoughts on that today.

Matt and I desire a big family. We want a lot of kids - "a lot" being a completely subjective term, of course. "A lot", for me, is five kids. Some of you are going "she is NUTS" right now, and I'm sure some of you are saying "only five? That's not a 'big family.'" That's the number we've settled on, although it's entirely up to God and His plans for us. We're also open to adoption and foster care, so I truly have no idea what the future of our family will look like. My hope and my desire is to keep seeking the Lord in each new season, and asking what His will is for us. We practice Natural Family Planning and are totally open to life at all times, so as far as kid spacing goes, we sort of have no preference. We chose not to avoid a pregnancy after Xavier was born, and decided to be open to life whenever God saw fit. God saw fit when Xavier was a year old, so here we are, with another babe on the way.

The world, our culture, society, tells us that the goal of life is to be happy. "Just do what makes you happy" - the slogan is plastered everywhere. It's the reason people change jobs, move across the country, buy and sell houses, travel the world, begin or end marriages. We're all in search of this elusive "happiness" that all the self-help books promise.

But my goal in this life, as a follower of Christ, is not to be comfortable, build wealth or even to be happy. My goal in this life is to become like Jesus, and to get to Heaven. Jesus didn't live a comfortable life, and as His followers, we're called to forgo our human comforts as well. I've never experienced that more than through motherhood.

Motherhood isn't super comfortable. There is a lot of sacrifice involved. We sacrifice sleep, solitude, quiet, alone time, our bodies, our money. When you have little ones to care for, it seems as though everything is beyond your control. Human comforts often go out the window when these tiny humans rely on you for their every need. But motherhood is sanctifying me. Motherhood is making me holier. Motherhood is what Jesus is using to draw me ever closer to himself. Jesus wants what is best for me, not what is most comfortable, or what might bring me fleeting happiness. He truly has my best interests at heart. He wants me to come home - eternal Home - forever.

Of course, I'm human, so my flesh longs for the trappings of this world. I want a pretty house. I want to be able to shop. I want to be able to buy Xavier cute clothes and nice toys. Sometimes the thought of having a large family or having lots of kids close together freaks me out, because of all the sacrifice. Of all the things we won't be able to do or buy or provide for them. What about vacations? What about college? What about my own comfort? It feels like I'm going to have to give up everything I love. But if you look up sacrifice in the dictionary, the definition is really so beautiful. Sacrifice isn't a word to be feared, it's a word to be upheld as a goal of believers. To sacrifice is to "surrender something for the sake of something else."

Having children means you surrender things. So many things. But you aren't surrendering in vain. The things I've surrendered to become a mom, the things I'm surrendering to have another child, I surrender for the sake of something else, something greater. I surrender my creature comforts, my longed-for luxuries, my many conveniences, for God's great plan to be made manifest in me and our family. To bear witness to His goodness and His provision. We surrender for a higher good.

In my human mind, I don't feel capable to mother two children. We live in a small house - two bedrooms and one very tiny bathroom that is, as of this moment, completely torn up with absolutely no plan for remodel. I am exhausted at the end of every day - even the best days - after caring for Xavier, my husband and myself. I feel maxed out. How on earth will I have energy or affection or love or time for another child? How on earth will I have time for any more children beyond that? Can I love another child? What if I love Xavier more? I know they say your heart expands, that love multiplies, but what if? What if? What if the depression returns? What if we have this second baby and I realize I'm not cut out for this?

I have no answer except: God. God provides. And I don't mean God provides in that He'll just provide money. I think that that happens and I think that's incredible. But God provides in other ways, too. He will provide opportunities for me to grow in contentment, so that I'm not jealous that other families can afford nicer clothes or toys for their kids or awesome vacations. He will provide opportunities to practice self-discipline and time management, so I can still have time for myself and to pursue hobbies I enjoy. He will provide opportunities for open and honest communication with my husband about my fears about a second child. He will provide opportunities to be courageous and invite other mamas into the community I so desperately need. He will provide opportunities for us to take on extra work to ease the financial aspect of adding another person to our household.

Our culture views large families or having kids close in age as crazy, even irresponsible, and I think this is so sad. Pinterest will tell you that by the time your child is eight or some crazy young age, you will have spent tens of thousands of dollars on them. What about college, friends will say. That's a lot to start saving for. The overarching theme is fear. Be afraid to have lots of kids. Be afraid, because it's scary. Be afraid, because it's expensive. Be afraid, because it's chaos all the time. Be afraid, because it's overwhelming. Be afraid, because you'll never sleep again.

Having children IS scary, because it's so beyond our control. Because we have to rely on strength beyond what we naturally possess. Because we can't do it on our own. But I know that I know that I know that God is greater. God is bigger than anything culture tries to tell you. Of course I'm scared. I've never mothered two children! I've never been pregnant while also having a VERY busy one year old! We live on one very modest income. We have a small home. We have a very minimal savings account. I already struggled with postpartum depression once, will it come back? Will it be worse? Have we made a huge mistake? Every day I have to make a choice: to live inside those fears, or surrender them to God. I have to choose to let my faith be greater than the fear. Sometimes I don't make it to the surrender and those are hard days. But there is grace and every morning is a fresh start.

I've felt it all so far this pregnancy. The fear, the joy, the gratitude, the overwhelm. But more than anything, I want to be a woman, a wife, a mother who trusts in Jesus. Who works out of His strength and not my own. Who trusts that He is writing my family's story and that He holds us in the palm of His almighty hand. Having children is scary, yes, but it's a beautiful act of surrender, too. To lay down your comforts and conveniences to bring another soul into the world that was breathed into life by the Creator, it's incredible. He didn't have to make it this way, make it so that women are the bringers of humanity, but He did. I'm honored to play this role in God's Kingdom story. I'm grateful for the many ways He's changing me through motherhood, and the ways He draws me closer to Himself.

To sacrifice isn't to give up everything in vain. To sacrifice is to "surrender something for the sake of something else," and because of God's grace, He is helping me become willing to sacrifice my comforts and luxuries and conveniences, my money and time and sleep for a short season, for this incredibly short season of growing and bearing and raising children, for the sake of gaining holiness and, eventually, Heaven.

Sharing the baby news early

We share about our pregnancies early, and here's why.

I believe life begins at conception. I believe this tiny, 6-week old baby in my belly that's the size of a grain of rice is every bit a human, every bit a whole entire person, as 13-month old Xavier sitting next to me. Sure, I don't know if it's a boy or a girl yet, or what they look like, but I know that they have an immortal soul that was breathed into life by the Creator of the Universe. I know He knit this baby's bones together with the most profound Love creation has ever known. That they are dearly loved by Him, and by us.

I've never experienced miscarriage, so I cannot begin to imagine what that pain is like, or speak to that experience. But I imagine that I would mourn the loss of this tiny baby the same way I've mourned the losses of other people I've known and loved. I know I wouldn't want to feel made to mourn in secret, or like miscarriage was in some way shameful or taboo. I know I would need the prayers, support and love of our tribe - those right here in my day-to-day life and also those whom I only know online.

Most of all, I don't to live my life in fear. I don't want to fear of losing this baby to overshadow the celebration of their life. I don't want the fear of what might happen tomorrow steal the excitement from today. I don't want the potential for heartbreak to take away my current joy. And I don't want to be afraid of being vulnerable, of being broken, of needing Jesus and others should we lose this baby. But most of all, I want this pregnancy, every pregnancy, this baby's life, and my life to make much of our good, good Father. I want the world to know that it is Him who sustains this life, and if He calls this soul back to Heaven, He is still good and He is still sovereign even in that unimaginable loss.

I don't know how many minutes or days or weeks we'll have with this sweet little baby. I wouldn't know that whether we shared our news at 12 weeks or 20. God is the one who gives life, and God is the one who knows when it will end, for all of us. All I know is I have this moment, right now. And I want to be nothing but joyful about this new addition to our family. I want to know that this baby's life was celebrated and rejoiced over from the moment we found out. And I don't want to sit on the news of God's goodness and the miracles He performs - because it IS a miracle, every single time.

I can understand wanting to wait to share the news, especially if you've experienced miscarriage or loss in the past. It's natural to want to cocoon yourself from the potential pain of having to then announce there will be no baby in your arms. By all means - if you want to wait, wait! I just think we women shouldn't feel pressured one way or the other. Whether you want to share at six weeks or sixteen, you should feel empowered and supported and celebrated no matter what.

So I'm sharing. And I'm celebrating. And I'm trusting in the Lord and the way He has written our story, and believing with all my heart that no matter what the story holds, He is good and Has nothing but our good in mind. And I'm praying that no matter what our story holds, he would use it for His glory.

Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us! Saint Gianna Molla, pray for us!

our hospital bag

Let me start this post by saying I was NOT going to post anything about our hospital bag. I read a handful of such posts on other blogs and was really disheartened by how many downright mean comments there were - people saying the mama was "ridiculous" and "crazy" for thinking she'd need/want/use everything she was taking. Here's the thing: if you read this post (or any post like it) and think I or the writer is crazy, or that we're packing too much, try doing what we all learned to do in kindergarten and "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I understand that maybe you're trying to be helpful, but a pregnant mama who is weeks away from the scariest/most unknown experience of her life really doesn't want to be told that she's crazy or ridiculous. I'll admit it - I am bringing a lot to the hospital. I am terrified of hospitals. I've never been in one, except for our tour last month and for five minutes once to visit my grandpa. I'm scared of all things medical, and nine months of doctor's appointments and needle sticks hasn't really changed that. My husband works in the medical field and assures me all the time that everything will be fine, but the fear and anxiety runs deep and so I want to bring as much with me that I know will comfort me as possible. Possibly ridiculous? Sure. But I'm a firm believer that you should just take whatever you think you might want or need, and not apologize. Also, I saw a lot of comments about things people brought themselves, like diapers, wipes, medicines, etc. A lot of the comments said things like "don't bother to bring those, the hospital supplies them." While this is often true, you most likely aren't getting them for free. In our case, everything is itemized, so every diaper we use at the hospital, we pay for. And when you use the ones the hospital supplies, you pay whatever they want to charge you. So while it may seem silly, we're bringing our own diapers, wipes and other items that I purchased way cheaper on Amazon than what the hospital will charge us. Every little bit counts for us, so it's worth it. But, some hospitals do a package plan, so you pay the same price regardless of whether you use their diapers or not. It's worth checking with your hospital to find out, and maybe not have to bring so much. So, there. I'll hop off my soapbox now. But please don't leave any mean comments :) When making my packing lists, I divided the packing up into five main bags:

  • My bag
  • Matt's bag
  • Baby's bag
  • Labor bin (we plan to labor at home as long as possible, so I threw everything I think I'll want in a bin that is staying in our living room until it's time to go to the hospital, then we can just bring the bin with us, rather than having to dig stuff out of a packed bag because I want to use it while still at home.)
  • Snack bag

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And then of course we'll also have our car seat (which is installed and has been checked) and I'm also bringing my nursing pillow. Here it all is (minus the carseat and Boppy) ready and waiting in the nursery!

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First up, my bag! Here's everything I packed for myself:

  • flip flops for the shower
  • grippy socks for walking around (such a great tip from a friend!)
  • nursing tanks (2)
  • underthings (2 nursing bras, sports bra, underwear, socks)
  • robe (I'm just using a kimono I already had)
  • labor gown (I just got a soft nightgown from Target, because I'm not a fan of the hospital gowns. #diva)
  • cozy clothes for after delivery/going home (2 pair soft pants, 2 flowy/loose tanks - I plan to just wear the nursing tanks while in the hospital)
  • zip up hoodie
  • postpartum essentials: nursing pads, nursing cream, maxi pads, tucks pads (I made a DIY version) stool softener, healing spray (a more natural alternative to Dermoplast, or there's this version from YoungLiving which I also have) and ice packs to decrease swelling
  • towel
  • bag for dirty laundry
  • toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, dry shampoo, soap, face wipes, eyedrops, contact solution, contact case, glasses, extra contacts, deodorant, makeup, hair ties, headband
  • hand sanitizer (a more natural alternative to Purel)
  • mints
  • water bottle (I have a particular favorite and I swear it helps me drink more water, haha!)
  • wallet (ID, insurance card)
  • journal + pen
  • phone + charger
  • straightener (just in case!)
  • camera + charger + memory cards
  • iPad + charger
  • powerstrip for maximizing the room's outlet for chargers, etc. (a tip I saw online and thought was so smart!)
  • moccasin slippers
  • kleenex
  • pillows + favorite tshirt blanket
  • file folder: baby book page for hand/footprints, signs for door, copies of the birth plan
  • Harry Potter DVDs for after delivery because, duh

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And Matt's bag. Here's what he's very economically packed into a small backpack (love that guy):

  • phone + charger
  • iPad + charger
  • wallet (cash, ID, debit card)
  • coins for vending machines
  • water bottle
  • two changes of clothes (shorts, tshirt - comfy clothes)
  • sweatpants in case it's cold
  • hoodie
  • swim trunks for helping me in the labor tub/shower
  • flip flops
  • socks/underwear
  • toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, soap
  • pillow & blanket
  • gum

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And baby's bag. I know I'm bringing more clothes than what we'll actually need, but having no idea what size he'll be or what the weather will be like (or if we'll be in the hospital for one day or three!) made it a bit hard. We also aren't doing any fancy studio newborn photos at the hospital or anything, so we just brought all casual clothes. Our hospital does provide sleeping gowns and sleep sacks so we decided not to pack those ourselves.

  • Two outfits in newborn size (onesie + pants)
  • Two outfits in 0-3 month size (onesie + pants)
  • going home outfit in newborn size
  • going home outfit in 0-3 month size
  • mittens
  • socks
  • hat
  • swaddle blankets (2)
  • knit blanket (for putting over the carseat if it's cold)
  • nail clippers + emery board
  • aspirator
  • thermometer
  • diapers (enough for 10-12 changes for 2 days)
  • wipes
  • diaper rash cream
  • coconut oil (meconium is really tarry, so I read that putting vaseline on baby's bum can help with the first few changes. I love coconut oil over Vaseline, so I threw some in a teeny jar for this!)
  • burp cloths (2)
  • pacifiers (2)
  • nurses treat basket

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Here's what's in the labor bin. Assuming all goes well, we'll labor at home as long as possible and then go to the hospital. We'll just take this whole bin with us when we go. It's a mixture of things I know I'll want, things that were suggested in our Bradley classes, by our doula and also some things I saw online. Who knows if I'll use any of it, but I'm glad to have it just in case.

  • heating pad
  • rice sock
  • essential oils (I'll have a post on what oils I'm using for labor and afterwards next week!)
  • diffuser
  • cooling eye mask
  • lavender lotion for massage
  • washcloths (for compresses)
  • Gentle Babies book + list of essential oils and blends
  • Rosary
  • wireless speaker for playing my labor playlist
  • verses for labor (in my pregnancy journal which I'll be taking with me)
  • candle (I sent a candle and a note to several friends, asking them to light the candle + pray for me when I'm in labor. I think having the same candle nearby to be reminded of all those who are praying for me will be so helpful!)
  • coach cards for Matt - ideas for things to try to help me, written out on index cards (a Bradley class suggestion that is so smart!)

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I know you're not supposed to eat in labor, blah blah blah, but I'm not much of a rule follower and I hate cafeteria food. I packed a small bag of snacks + treats for Matt and I, for labor and afterwards. Thankfully there's lots of food options around our hospital as well, so after baby is here I'm sure someone can run out and get me something delicious (ummm, like a Reese's blizzard from the Dairy Queen across the street!) Here's what I packed for snacks:

  • applesauce squeeze packets
  • rice cakes + almond butter packets
  • chocolate covered pomegranate seeds (a treat for Matt!)
  • dark chocolate sea salt caramels (a treat for me after delivery!)
  • gluten-free pretzels
  • peanut butter crackers
  • larabars
  • fruit leather
  • apple crisps
  • la croix

So that's it! A duffel for me, a tote for baby, a backpack for Matt, and then one small reusable grocery bag of snacks and the Boppy! All in all, not too terrible. And who knows, maybe we'll only use half of it! But knowing I'll have the things I like, and the things I think I'll want, has been really comforting and helpful as I envision our time in the hospital.

*duffel bag is from Everlane, tote bag is from West Elm, backpack is from OAK Lifestyle