Thursday, November 12, 2015

Male Planning, not Meal Planning

Even now that I am staying home, my husband fixes a lot of meals because he enjoys cooking, and the baby always wants to eat and eat and eat just when dinner should be fixed. Since she sort of needs to be attached to me to eat, it complicates that whole being over a stove and using sharp objects thing. I, however, am left in charge of meal planning and food buying. With a three-month-old and intense graduate work, this task is a bit more challenging. With a picky husband, this task used to be difficult.

Here are some of my food shopping tricks:
1. Use Amazon Pantry (just bulk stuff, or things not offered on Peapod)--when baby naps, I try to accomplish grad work, not go grocery shopping. I do not fear grocery shopping with an infant; it's just annoying and cumbersome. Plus, I hate food shopping anyway. Food shopping online while posting in online discussion forums for grad class works out pretty well. It all comes in one big box, so it's probably better to use this method for bulk items.

2. Use Peapod (food delivery service through Giant)--delivery fees aren't too steep; they actually do a great job (at least in our area) of choosing good produce; they frequently send promo coupons in the mail.

3. Feed the baby. While she naps, take a quick trip to the grocery store for meat/specialty items. If the baby is cluster feeding at this time, I just wait until the weekends and make my husband go, or we go as a family. (Now that she's three-months-old, her time between each feeding has grown a bit.)

Here is my new meal planning method:
 1. List items in pantry. Our family cannot be the only one that has a ton of stuff in the pantry that goes unused for months at a time. So, I made a list of items in our pantry, fridge, and freezer.

2. Once I had a list of what actually existed in our cabinets/fridge/freezer, I came up with a list of meals that could be made with just these things and possibly a few additions. I did not write down recipes. I just wrote down ingredients. My husband chooses his own adventure while cooking anyway, so recipes are nearly useless with him in front of the stove.

3. Once I had a list of 7 meals (at least one in a crockpot), I made a trip to the store or ordered food through Peapod. We make the meals with the ingredients that will spoil the quickest.

How is this method different?
Not forcing ourselves to fix a particular meal on a particular day gives us the flexibility we need as a family.

With this method, I always have at least one "easy" meal on hand (ex: Applegate hot dogs, broccoli, and mac and cheese), one crockpot meal, and enough leftovers to make lunch the next day. (I can't make a new lunch for myself because there is not enough time between naps to make myself something new and tend to other household chores/graduate work.)

Also, I created my own meal plan template based on my needs. Here's what a completed meal plan looks like:

By the way, we have been using this method for the past month, and it has been the only method that has worked for an extended period of time!

If you want access to the PDF file, then go here.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stitch Fix Redeemed Themselves

After I had Vincenza, my style had to shift. First of all, I wore a lot of fitted tees before she was born, but nursing her and general discomfort mean that I really want nothing to do with shirts that cling to me. Second of all, I won't be going into the classroom every day, so my style has to go a little more casual. It seems silly to wear wedges and work pants while I try to do the laundry, try to eat breakfast, or take a long walk while wearing her in the Ergo. I am nothing if not sensible. 

I think everyone is pretty much familiar with Stitch Fix, but if you're not, here's the low down: a stylist (mine have never been the same for the past 8) chooses 5 items for you based on the style profile that you fill out. You pay a non-refundable $20 styling fee, but if you choose to keep something, that $20 goes toward that item. They send you a pre-labeled bag to return anything you do not wish to keep; this part is not an extra fee for you. Once you mail back the bag of items (must be within three days!), complete the checkout process, where you provide feedback on each item. Schedule a "fix" as often as you want. Be mindful that most items are not under $50, so if you don't want to pay $44 for a t-shirt, request not to receive them in any fixes. If you want to give your girl here some kickback and you haven't signed up yet, use my referral link here (or not). 

When I explained this style shift to Stitch Fix, they sent me two boxes filled with so many things I hated/couldn't nurse in/felt too dressy for my current lifestyle. The only "dressy" thing they gave me in this fix was an actual dress that miraculously works for nursing, and the stylist gave me a great idea for styling it casually. Good job, Melissa. Melissa saved you, Stitch Fix, because I was really going to stop receiving them completely. (Now, I'll just get them every now and again since I have to start tutoring to earn some extra cash.) 

If you are completely dissatisfied with Stitch Fix's performance, TELL THEM. They really listened to me when I sent them an e-mail that told them they did not look at my Pinterest board (clearly), read all of the reviews of the items they send to me (those dang things take precious time when you have a kid), or listen to my feedback at all. They really listened this time. 

Also, like the e-mail response said to me, most of their stuff is at least $50. Therefore, I specified in my stylist note that I did NOT want t-shirts because I would never spend $48 on a t-shirt. I asked for things I knew would be worth extra money (a good bag, a good coat, and sweaters). I feel that telling them what I did NOT want ended up being just as important as telling them what I DID want.

Anyway, on to the review of the pieces:

Item One: Livi Dress by Papermoon ($58)
Thoughts: The stylist suggested pairing it with a vest and boots. I loved how that turned out. The colors are navy and off-white, which means it will go with a plethora of other colors. It's long enough, and it will work well with tights in the winter. It actually pulls down enough for me to nurse the babe. It looks way better belted. It looks sort of like a sack when it's not belted. 
Here it is styled another way. I might wear this to my internship. (I am not returning to teaching right now, but I am finishing my graduate degree in Educational Technology, which means I go into a school at least once a month.)

 Item Two: Anchorage Solid Canvas Tote by Street Level ($58)
Thoughts: My laptop fits in the middle zipper pouch, which I think is just amazing because it still has two large side compartments. It would work really well as a smaller diaper bag, which is what I asked the stylist to give me. I also specified that I wanted a neutral bag. This one is exactly what I have been looking for for months and months.

Item Three: Chaplin Lined Hooded Anorak Jacket by Market & Spruce ($94)
Thoughts: I have been hunting for this jacket in a fall thickness for at least a year. With the 25% off for keeping all of the items, I felt that the jacket was a reasonable price, especially since I loved the length, the red zipper, the hood (key component for me), and the general fit. I wear my winter version a LOT, so I think this one will be a great transition coat. I told my stylist I did not want a pea coat (have enough of those and too dressy for where I'm taking my overall style these days). 
(Also, these black flats are Simply Vera from Kohl's--I LOVE THEM.)

 Item Four: Cobar Fleece Lined Jacket by California Moonrise ($78)
Thoughts: I did NOT love the price. It made me choke a bit, but it was more cost effective to keep everything than keep just the bag and coat (my original "yes" pieces). It's so soft. I am actually lounging in it right now. Like my mom said, Vincenza will love cuddling into it. I wish the fleece lining was inside the sleeves, but it's still really warm. They call it a jacket, which I don't think it is. The stylist suggested pairing it with a dress, which I have not tried, but that's a good idea. Forgive my swinging, disappearing arm.

Item FiveKillian Cowl Neck Sweater by RD Style ($68)
Thoughts: This sweater is SO soft. I love the neutral color. (I would loooove it in white, too.) It is actually long enough to wear with leggings because it completely covers the bum. I told my stylist that I wanted sweaters but to avoid wool (allergic). 

I paired the sweater and the coat. I have to say that I am a big fan of how it turned out. Husband, take me on a hayride. I look perfect for the occasion. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Orange, Black, and Headless

No, this post is not a Halloween tale. However, after a two-month hiatus, I am sure my presence is a tad scary. Babies have this innate ability to soak up every spare moment (and not-so-spare moment) you have, so all of my actual spare moments in the past almost-three months have involved reading for graduate class. Of course, I should be reading for graduate class right now, but momma needs a break...even if our professor did assign us 100 pages of reading this week. 

Plus, my words might actually make sense today since Vincenza slept for her longest stretch yet, 9.5 hours, and she's been out for another three so far this morning. It feels like a gust of fresh air because girlfriend fought all but two hours of sleep yesterday and slept for four hours the night before. (In case you were wondering, I cannot just slip an almost-three-month old some coffee when she does not sleep. In fact, when I drank caffeinated tea a week after she was born, she pinged off the walls for all of forever.)

Anyway, I do actually get dressed most days. Sometimes, I eat breakfast. Sometimes, I brush my teeth. Sometimes, I take a shower. Sometimes, I miraculously do all of these things. So far, today, I have eaten breakfast, ordered an external hard drive for backing up my thousands of pictures, canceled an Amazon order of size 1 diapers (someone blew out of her size 1 diapers and right into size 2 this morning), and let the dogs outside to forage for squirrels (unsuccessful venture). Some day, I will give you some of my tips for dressing as a new mom, particularly one who is nursing a messy eater. For now, I will show you my headless outfit, which unintentionally, belatedly celebrates Halloween.

As it turns out, Vincenza's room is perfect for taking pictures. Since she does not yet sleep in there, I might as well make good use of the pretty accent wall and superb lighting.

The Outfit:
Shirt: Old Navy (recent, super clearance--exact for $8)
Pants: Old Navy (recent, super clearance--exact, more size options in black)
Flats: Aerosoles (last year--possibly the same ones here)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Old Navy Review & Redefining My Style

Dressing my postpartum body for the past three weeks has left me feeling puzzled. First of all, I donned "teacher" wear for nine years, so what does everyday relaxed wear even look like? Second of all, my chest--and I think my ribs?--has grown, so the fitted tees I used to wear in XS feel odd and make nursing a pain. Third of all, having a c-section complicates the wardrobe situation. I am a few pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight (avert your nasty glares elsewhere, please), so I can "technically" wear my pre-pregnancy jeans; however, anything with buttons presses against my incision, which is still not a fan of being touched. Therefore, I can't really wear my pre-pregnancy pants. What does that mean? I am still wearing all of my maternity bottoms, which is weird but necessary. That was not something people really warned me about at the end of my pregnancy.

Now that I will be staying home with Vincenza, I want a wardrobe that:
* Looks pulled together but relaxed.
* Makes nursing my hungry little hippo (who's not hippo-sized) a little easier. Fitted tees, one of my previous closet staples, do not fall into this least not for me.  
* Still fits my overall "style" preferences (which I decided would work best by incorporating some of my favorite colors)
* Is kind to my healing incision

I decided to look for specific types of clothes:
* Looser shirts (good for nursing and healing incision)
* Longer shirts (good for making leggings appropriate because leggings are meant only to show legs, NOT your butt)
* Thicker leggings (even if my butt is covered, I need leggings that are opaque, not sheer)
* Easy-to-wash fabrics (nothing that requires much maintenance)

Old Navy was running a great sale, so I decided they would likely carry exactly what I needed for a good price. Thanks for not disappointing me, Old Navy.

Item 1: Swing Tee in Icelandic Mineral (Size XS Tall)
I decided to go for size tall since they finally sell multiple items in XS tall. Perfect. I love this length, this blush color, and the softness of the material. I almost immediately pulled off the tags and threw it in the laundry basket to go into the wash. I am thinking about getting it in other colors. Find it here.

Item 2: Jersey Leggings in Navy (size small)  
Loved them so much (so thick!) that I just ordered them in maroon too. Best leggings I've ever tried, quite honestly. Great length, thickness, and fit.

Good length and color but I didn't like where the sleeves hit, the itchiness of the fabric, and the way the fabric fell in the front. I returned it. I thought I'd still show it to you so that you received a full review. 

 Item 4: Boyfriend Plaid Pullover (Size XS Tall)
Little looser than some people might like, but it works so well for nursing, I like the length, and it'll shrink when I wash it. Plus, it goes perfectly with the navy leggings I bought.

 Item 5: Terry Fleece Bomber Jacket (Size Small)
Love everything about it. It will be perfect this fall. Great with jeans or this maxi skirt or even over a dress. I think a small was a good choice because the sleeves actually fit.

Item 6: Kimono-Sleeve Oversized Top (size XS Tall)
I liked this one so much that I just ordered it in red, too. It won't work with leggings (not long enough), but it will go well with jeans, pants (these are maternity), and even maxi skirts. I love the sleeves; they add something special to an otherwise ordinary top.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Vincenza's Birth Story

Our sweet baby girl is currently bathing in the sunlight flooding into our living room so that the last traces of her jaundice disappear sleeping in her swing. Since I cannot climb the stairs too often (doctor's orders), I find myself trapped on the upper level of our house. I might as well try to write her birth story until she needs to eat again. (I am on day three of working on this post, so who knows where we'll be when I finally finish it.)

Vincenza was due on August 27, 2015. So many people kept telling me, "Oh, I went two weeks late. Oh, women usually go late with their first child." I had a hard time believing all of these people. I just knew she would not wait until her due date to meet us, and I guess my mother's intuition started early because my water broke at 9:30pm on August 13th.

As Jeff dozed off on the couch, I heard and felt this popping sound that I confused with a gas bubble. After all, I had eaten a bit too much salsa earlier that day. Then I thought I peed myself (dignity be gone), so I hurried to the bathroom where I just started repeating, "uh oh. UH OH." Jeff rushed over to the bathroom, and I said, "It's like I'm peeing, but I'm not peeing. I think my water is breaking!" You see, we both hoped my water would break because it would be a surefire sign to both of us that it was go time. However, we learned in the birthing class that only 10% of women's water breaks, so we figured our chances were slim. Leave it to me to be a part of the 10%. We both maintain that my water broke because we made fun of the terminology from the birthing class. They continued to refer to it as a "bag of waters," which we found hysterical. I think I understand why they call it waters. It's not just a little water that makes its way out. It just keeps going and going and going until you actually have the baby. Water water everywhere.

Anyway, we called the midwives. The midwife on call said she wanted us in the hospital no later than midnight because water breaking requires almost immediate action to avoid any bacteria from harming the baby. By 11:30, we arrived at the hospital. First, we had to part the sea of sickies in the emergency waiting room. One man who may have escaped the mental ward kept inching closer and closer to me as he waved enthusiastically at the pregnant lady in labor. We scurried as quickly through the door as possible, took the elevator to the second floor, and checked into Labor & Delivery. When the midwife first checked me, I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. Definitely labor. Definitely not fake this time around.

I tried to labor for as long as possible without an epidural, but my body just wasn't having it. I swayed, I rocked on a ball, I breathed through it. Jeff was a champion, my champion. He helped me go to the bathroom, he helped me breathe through contractions, he continued to get me water as I needed it, and he rubbed my back to ease the pressure. The contractions were on top of each other at one-two minutes apart, so I didn't really have a reprieve like the movies and even the birthing class suggested. Of course, I had to be hooked up to an IV and receive an entire bag of fluids before they could administer the epidural. Every time a contraction slammed me, I scowled at the IV bag and cursed it for not moving quicker.  Finally, the anesthesiologist came to administer the epidural; it felt like a kick to the back, but pain was relative at this point in the game. The epidural quelled my pain, but it brought with it an almost-as-annoying symptom: the shakes. I shivered and shook for hours on end. (This symptom really worried my mom because it gave her flashbacks to an illness I suffered in high school. I shook so violently that three football players couldn't hold me down.) When Jeff wasn't tending to me, my mom was scratching my head or trying to soothe me. I am glad they stayed with me for the duration.

The midwife checked me again. 5cm and 100% effaced. Good, progress.

Almost three hours later, I was still only 5cm dilated. Not good. Not progress. I continued to focus on Vincenza's heartbeat, which wasn't sounding as promising as it had before. Worry and anxiety washed over my already-shivering body. The midwife had me get on my hands and knees, a very difficult feat when an epidural has almost completely numbed your lower half, so that I could wiggle Vincenza into the proper position and help her drop. Still no progress after thirty minutes of this effort.

When the midwife delivered the "I suggest a c-section" news, she felt so awful about it. Honestly, like I said in the very beginning of this journey, keep the kid healthy and I can deal with the rest. When Vincenza's heartrate dropped to 90bpm at one point, all I wanted was for someone to get her out safely. The midwife said that Vincenza wasn't a big baby, but my pelvis was not accommodating her, especially since the circumference of her head was larger because she had it turned to the side. She said I could keep laboring, but she felt that I was not "anatomically designed" to birth Vincenza naturally. I felt no sadness, only relief. Relief that someone was getting my baby out and into my arms. I wanted her out healthy far more than I wanted to avoid another surgery.

Somewhere around 8 in the morning on August 14th, they had me in the OR, prepping me for surgery. One of our neighbors from our previous neighborhood actually works in Labor and Delivery at our hospital, and she was in the OR with us for Vincenza's birth. It was so comforting to see a familiar face; she even took a lot of pictures with my mom's camera since my mom couldn't come into the OR with us. My favorite picture is this one:

C-sections are weird. I was awake. Both of my arms were extended at my sides (as if I were trying to fly). I could not feel the pain of surgery, but I could feel the doctors pulling and pushing all of my organs around. Jeff felt a little freaked out by seeing me flop around on the table as the doctors all but put their feet up on the table to rearrange my insides. I, on the other hand, will never forget the initial smell. Aloud, I said, "Ummm...that smells terrible." Within thirty seconds, I internally realized that I smelled terrible. That smell was the smell of burning flesh. My burning flesh. They were cauterizing my wound, and I smelled awful. Jeff maintains that I smelled like steak. I worry about his diving into cannibalism during an apocalypse now that he knows my burning flesh smells like steak. I still think it smells like stink.

After they pulled out Vincenza, I worriedly asked, "Is it normal to feel like someone smashed me in the shoulder with a baseball bat? It really hurts." Apparently, this pain is called referred pain. Since my uterus could not feel the pain it was obviously experiencing, the pain shot into my shoulder. At first, I refused pain meds. Five minutes later? I had to accept them. I wanted to enjoy my daughter, not focus on the searing shoulder pain. (Unfortunately, those pain meds made me dizzy and queasy for the rest of the day.)

Now, aside from Vincenza's health, I wanted one more thing. I wanted to be the first to hold her. My dad was the first to hold me (I was also born via c-section), but I wanted to hold Vincenza before Jeff did. Originally, they planned to place her on my chest for five minutes. She ended up doing so well that they left her on my chest for about thirty minutes, thirty glorious minutes. Before Vincenza was born, people continued to tell me how much love I would feel, but no one could have truly prepared me for the moment I first saw her and heard her lungs burst with healthy, loud cries. At that moment, Jeff was holding my hand and sitting next to me. We both saw her and sobbed. And sobbed. And sobbed. She was finally here. Our tiny, sweet human was finally on the outside, and she was all ours. I wish I could bottle those intense emotions for all eternity because they would surely heal all wounds.

We are eleven days out, and I am on the mend thanks to my little healer. She is eating and farting like a grown man. I am showering at least every two or three days. My mom is spending the next week with me since Jeff cannot take off at his new job. We have entertained several visitors who do not mind my unsightly appearance because who can focus on anything other than this adorable baby?

I still can't drive for another week, and I have a lot of other restrictions for a month after that. However, I have a tiny, adorable, lovable daughter. I feel nothing more than gratitude. Even better? I now share my birthday with Vincenza. We were born within an hour of each other on the same day (not of the same year, of course).  

I probably forgot a lot. Blame mom brain. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Mother Daughter Style at 38 Weeks

Soon, we will have another girl to join our pictures. Since we have no idea when Vincenza will actually make her appearance, I decided I wanted some pictures with Mom before she went home yesterday. Plus, I love this first picture so much that it might have to be framed and placed in Vincenza's room. Jeff took it with the new camera he got for me. Fancy in our pants over here.

Mom's Outfit:
 Dress: Boscov's
Necklace/earrings: A La Mode Boutique
Cardigan: Kohl's (she thinks)

My Outfit:  
Cardigan: NY & Co.
Dress (not maternity): Old Navy
Elephant Necklace (from mom!): Bass & Co.

How far along? 38 weeks as of yesterday, and I will turn 31 years young tomorrow. Wow.

Size? I've gained about 25 pounds, and she is somewhere around 6 pounds (they guess.)

Nursery? Finished (except for whatever else we end up hanging on the walls after she arrives). Feel free to check out a tour of her nursery here. So far, both my mom and I have fallen asleep in that nursery chair, so it was a good choice.

Maternity Clothes? The only thing I can wear with any sort of comfort is a dress, especially a maxi dress. See my tips for shopping and styling in the third trimester here.

Stretch Marks? Not yet, but I am really waiting for my body to surprise me with this one.

Sleep? I try to keep myself from napping so that I sleep more soundly at night, and this strategy has worked relatively well for two weeks. I still use my pregnancy wedge and pillow to make it through the night despite the fact that I have to fight with these things when I rouse sleepily three times minimum to use the bathroom. See what's helped me survive here.

Contractions? I have pretty strong Braxton Hicks contractions, and Vincenza does not appear to like them. She wiggles around when they happen. Contractions + Wiggling Baby = Lots of discomfort for Momma.
Celebrations? We have reached "term" as of 37 weeks, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Now I just need to see her sweet face and hear her healthy screams so that I can breathe the last, biggest sigh of relief. All we need to celebrate is her health. I have remained so hyper-focused on her well being that everything else pales in comparison to my prayers for her health.

Cravings? For four days, I have wanted a cupcake. I don't know why. I have yet to eat one. However, tomorrow is my birthday, and I intend to eat a cupcake for my birthday. Cupcake and crabs.

Symptoms? Mainly growing pains. My body is struggling to support the both of us, but I'm powering through pretty well. I even forced myself to go on a walk with Jeff yesterday.

Movement? Despite her lack of space, this kid loves to move. She moves frequently throughout the day, but her movements are relatively relaxed. As soon as Daddy comes home around 2-3, her witching hour starts. I say witching "hour," but she gears up until at least 8 at night. However, once I settle into bed, not to be confused with the couch, she's good about calming down again. I tell her to move even if it hurts me because her movements let me know she is thriving in there.

Anticipating? Obviously, we are all anticipating her arrival. I am also really looking forward to my mom staying with us for like two weeks because Jeff cannot take off after having recently started a new job. The consistent support from someone who makes me feel relaxed and better eases a lot of my pre-motherhood anxiety. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer Maternity Style: Third Trimester Shopping & Styling Tips

Every pregnant woman is different--if you learn anything here, may it be that one tidbit of information--so what works for this pregnant woman might not work for you. However, this little lady of mine has turned into a lowrider, and I have become a hotbox breathing fire onto my shivering husband in the dead of night. What do these things signify? They signify that I neither want to wear anything that touches/constricts my lower abdomen nor do I want to wear thicker fabric. Thus, I do not wish to wear pants nor do I wish to wear shorts, not even the maternity variety. If you find yourself in this boat by the end of your pregnancy, I have some suggestions for you. By the way, not one of the dresses/skirts I am donning in this collage is from the maternity section. Only the navy shirt in the last picture is.

Third Trimester Shopping Tips:
Tip 1 --> Shop secondhand or sales:
  • Even though we plan to have more than one kid, it seemed unreasonable to spend more on maternity clothes than I would on non-maternity clothes. If you have the piggy bank for it, then have at it. 
  • I found most of my maternity stuff from either the sale sections (or promotional deals) of Motherhood Maternity, promotional deals at GAP/Old Navy, or browsing through thredUP's maternity section. I did keep one maternity shirt from one of my Stitch Fix boxes, and that was because I knew it would fit me postpartum and be nursing friendly.
Tip 2 --> Shop non-maternity (reasonably)
  • I read all of these blogs in the beginning of pregnancy that said never buy maternity jeans and provided all of these tips for doing so. Well, that was not in the cards for me. The first things I grew out of were pants, and I had to buy maternity jeans. I tried the rubberband trick; I failed at it. I tried the belly bands and those just felt like rubberbands that never stayed in place; I hated fighting with them to go pee. I tried demi-panel jeans, and they ended up feeling too restricting. I tried inset panel jeans (sold at Gap and Old Navy), and those were great in the beginning. I also bought full-panel jeans, and I liked them best. Those fit, but now in the third trimester I want nothing touching my abdomen. I fold down the panel of my full panel shorts/leggings, and it works just fine for the moment.
  • Dresses, unlike pants, are easier to find in the non-maternity section. Make sure you buy stretchy cotton fabrics that have a lot of give! Old Navy is the best place to find these kinds of dresses. 
  • You might have to size up for some dresses/skirts and not others. I had to size up for shorter dresses (like the orange one in the collage) so that it fit in the third trimester when my belly shortened the dress' length. 
  • As for maxi dresses, I stayed my pre-pregnancy size because I didn't worry about length, and I chose stretchy fabrics that would still fit over my growing chest and belly. 
Tip 3 --> Do periodic pare downs of your wardrobe
  • It might fit you one week and not the next. When that happens, do a little inventory: do you even want this item post-pregnancy (don't be fooled by pregnancy hormones here)? If you never even really wore this item to start with, put it in a "maybe" pile that you reevaluate after pregnancy.  
  • If you definitely want to keep it postpartum, then just hang it in a different section/the back of your closet. Keep everything that fits you right now located together to make getting dressed easier. Goodness knows just trying to put your foot into underwear at this point is a struggle. Let's not complicate matters by struggling to find something to struggle into. 
  • Currently, I have a thredUP bag sitting on the floor of my closet that is collecting items I don't think I will want postpartum. I decided I would reevaluate after she's here to decide if I think these items still fit my lifestyle/body.
Tip 4 --> Realize that you might have to change your style...a bit
  • I was staunch anti-leggings before pregnancy. Before I felt like Regina George in Mean Girls who can wear only sweatpants. I still maintain that one's butt must remain covered while wearing leggings, but I will actually wear them in public now. This belly gave me little choice in the matter.
Tip 5 --> Consider postpartum wear now:
  • I have already started searching for nursing bras (if that's what you choose to do!), so I took advantage of a promotion at Motherhood Maternity and bought four nursing nightgowns that I can even wear now. They actually fooled my mom into thinking they were real dresses, so I can wear them if unannounced (or announced) company comes to visit without feeling like a slob. Not that anyone would really judge me...harshly. 
  • I am starting to section things off in my closet that I think will work for nursing/early motherhood because goodness knows I need to make my life as easy as possible in those beginning months. 
  • I started a new Pinterest board called "Easy Mom Style" for things I think I would wear postpartum that still suit my style without letting me get into a yoga pants rut. (Some women rock the yoga pants trend beautifully; I do not belong to that talented group of women. Plus, I'd rather find a reeeeally comfortable pair of jeans instead.)
  • I won't buy anything for postpartum that is not easy to clean. Babies poop, puke, and ooze all sorts of bodily fluids. Donning dry-clean-only clothes sounds like a terrible combination to me. 
  • I am looking for looser, forgiving tops because I know nothing goes back to exactly the way it was.  
Third Trimester Styling Tips:
Tip 1 --> Belt, necklace, or sleeveless completer piece
  • Belt it -- it was not until my belly turned into a shelf in the third trimester that I could actually wear a belt below my bust and have it stay there all day. Oh, it has no problem staying there now. 
  • Necklace -- Sometimes a belt looks weird (tried one with the blue/white maxi skirt in the collage...EW), so I opt for a fun necklace. 
  • Sleeveless completer piece -- It is far too hot for a utility vest, but that gauzy, black, sleeveless number I have on in the middle picture? Perfection. I have some short sleeved cardigans that also work well. Also, the floral button up in the far left picture of the collage worked that way for awhile. However, I will have to tie it above my belly now if I want it to work, or I can just wear it open and unbuttoned. I have turned several button ups into "cardigans" for now.
Tip 2 --> Practice not washing your hair every day
  • After Vincenza arrives, I doubt I will want to nor have much time to do a lot with my hair. Since third-trimester fatigue has struck, I figured I would try out low-maintenance hairstyles. Here are a few that work for my finer, curly hair:
  • Curly--I just use a curling iron for a few pieces that act unruly. This style takes less than 5 minutes. 
  • Bangs up and curly--If my bangs are not cooperating that morning, then I clip them back.
  • Updo--I cannot frenchbraid (need to learn), but I can twist like a pro. My go-to style is similar to this one.
  • Straight hair...for days on end--If I straighten my hair, I can go like four or five days without washing it. Of course, I have to put in the initial 20 minutes to dry it on day one, but I guess it works out in the end. 
  • Rock a headband--Most headbands fall off of my head because it's shaped weirdly. This headband does not. My sewing machine is in a corner of the storage room I cannot reach with my belly in the way, so I have not had a chance to try making some of my own headbands. I'll let you know how that goes...or doesn't.
  • Shower at night--I hear this works well after the baby comes, and it worked really well when I was teaching because it meant less maintenance in the morning. 
  • I pinned these hairstyles to try. (I should try them now....)

Look 1: Button up + maxi + headband
  • Button up: The Limited (size XS, would wear open when the belly grew too large for buttoning)
  • Maxi dress: Old Navy (size XS, not maternity, bought in a stretchy cotton fabric)
  • Headband: Target
Look 2: Patterned maxi + curly hair
  • Patterned maxi dress: Apt 9 via Kohl's (size XS, not maternity, very stretchy fabric)
Look 3: Sleeveless cardigan + striped maxi + updo
  • Sleeveless cardigan: Apt 9 via Kohl's (size S, not maternity)
  • Striped maxi dress: Merona via Target (size XS, not maternity, stretchy fabric)
Look 4: Sized-up dress + belt + shorter necklace + pinned back hair
  • Orange dress: Old Navy swing dress (size M, not maternity, bought even larger for length) 
  • Belt: Francesca's (old)
  • Necklace: J.Crew Factory (old)
  • Gold sandals: Aerosoles
Look 5: Maternity shirt + long necklace + maxi skirt + straight hair
  • Shirt: Old Navy maternity (size XS)
  • Necklace: Sonoma (I think) via Kohl's
  • Maxi skirt: Paper Moon for Stitch Fix (size S, not maternity, very stretchy and so soft)

There you have it. Some tips and some inspiration (I hope). Let me know if you want any other tips/suggestions/inspiration.