When I was pregnant with my first, I didn't have to wear maternity clothes till I was like seven months pregnant. I really wanted to wear maternity clothes, however, and bought a whole bunch, maternity jeans with the panel, tops, dresses, you name it. And I waited patiently (okay, impatiently) for them to actually fit, which they did, for a matter of weeks. I learned my lesson that maternity clothes, while useful for those certain weeks, aren't super duper practical nor worth the money. And the sad truth is, the really cute maternity clothes are so ridiculously expensive that it's hard to pull the trigger on purchasing them.
Belly bands are great, you can extend the life of your pre-baby jeans by simply not zipping them up and covering the potentially exposed area with a little tube top looking thing that is supposed to keep it all up and together. Supposed to being the operative words there. Because in reality when you sit down get ready to do some major overhauling before you get back up otherwise you are going to have some pretty hot pregnancy plumber's crack with a belly tube top bunched somewhere around your mid-section.
And it's great that I feel good about being able to still fit my legs into the jeans, never mind my belly, except that now the zipper that I can't actually pull up on those jeans is digging it's tiny metal rectangle directly into my skin and adjusting it in public means yanking material covering my general groin area and that is usually something I try to avoid doing. By the end of the day I want to tear that thing off of me and banish it to a dark, dark place, never to be worn again.
That brings me to maternity jeans. These almost always fall under the "the cheaper the uglier" banner, which sadly a lot of maternity wear falls under. While I'd love to shell out the $216 for a great pair of J.Brand maternity jeans I just can't bring myself to do so, especially for an item that I will only be wearing temporarily. That brings me to the cheaper versions. The cheaper versions usually look like they were cut by a drunk person working in the dark, and have this super thick band, so if you wear them under a thin top you have this fairly mysterious looking ridge surrounding your belly like you pulled your pants up to just under your boobs (which you did). Really makes you feel confident, doesn't it?
I tried going the dress route, sort of like letting my more bohemian side out a little, the flowy, flower child kind of thing. Which is more comfortable, for sure, but the problem is that the flowy dress will hit you on your largest spot and fall from there, thus creating what I like to call the "Parade Float Effect", where you appear MUCH larger than you actually are (especially in photos) and you seem to enter a room in a series of stages rather than at once: belly, more belly, then boobs, then face, and then you're in the room.
I find myself drifting off during work to websites like Hatch Collection and A Pea in the Pod and gazing admiringly at the models who look like they just tossed on a really great chambray shirt and some old boyfriend jeans to go pick up tulips from the farmers market and maybe a baguette and oh hey, they're nine months pregnant, no big deal. So I'll click on the outfit I am most longing for, determined to maybe buy at least ONE outfit I can feel good in, but then choke on my morning ice cream at the $288 price tag (for a shirt, just a shirt, not a magical one either).
Perhaps my aversion to buying maternity clothes comes from an experience I had once on my way to a wedding with my mother. She had bought me this really beautiful Lilly Pulitzer silk madras maternity dress, it was perfect, and I loved it. I had been saving it for this specific wedding and couldn't wait to actually feel pretty good in what I was wearing for a change. The wedding was a couple hours away, and so I wore sweatpants and a t-shirt on the drive then had her stop so I could change quick before we got there. Trying to get dressed in a gas station bathroom while avoiding having anything touch the ground is hard, not to mention doing it while hugely pregnant, but I managed to wiggle into this little silk preppy perfection with no problem and walked out to the car, already feeling much better in my new dress. It was short lived, because as I sat down I heard a distinctive ripping noise. I didn't need to reach back to confirm what I already knew, but I did anyway, and found that the zipper had come away from the silk fabric, leaving a large hole. I was crushed, absolutely crushed. Not only did I just rip my brand new dress, a generous and thoughtful gift from my mother that I had been looking forward to for weeks, I also felt like my body was completely out of control. I didn't even know that I was too big for the dress, I felt like I wasn't even myself anymore.
I cried, of course I cried. I cried like a little baby, even more so because I didn't have a back up dress, nor a cover up (it was so hot that day). I had no dress, just sweats and yoga pants, and we were already late for this wedding which we had driven hours to get to. We wound up making a mad dash through a mall with no maternity store nor any maternity options, and I wound up with a dress that barely contained my boobs with a huge ugly flower on it, leaving me feeling a little silly and completely uncomfortable. I hate to say it ruined my weekend, but it did.
I'm not saying I need fancy overpriced maternity clothes to feel good about myself, but I will admit that feeling pulled together, feeling like your clothes actually fit, does go a long way in boosting your self confidence sometimes, especially on those days where you feel like you're sleepwalking after being up all night with heartburn or a sick child. Having that little extra oomph can put a little smile on your face in a way that old yoga pants and a Target maternity t-shirt just can't.
The problem gets confounded for me further because my part time job as a social reporter requires me to wear dresses to events, sometimes two to three events a week, and I have two dresses total right now that fit me. Two. One of which I put on last week, only to hear my seven year old tell me (in an honest way, not in a mean way) that it looked like I was "wearing a tablecloth" because the colors and pattern resembled our favorite summertime tablecloth. The other one, pictured above, is actually not even a maternity dress, but a wrap/convertible dress, one that I have worn both pregnant and not pregnant and is nothing short of a miracle. Extensive boob management was necessary to wear that dress, but it was worth it. I have contemplated just wearing that dress and that dress only for the remainder of my pregnancy but don't want to alarm anyone regarding my mental state.
So, as I sit here typing this in my sweatpants and oversized cardigan that I wear literally every day (SO GLAD I work from home, I think my coworkers would call HR regarding my outfits if I worked in an office still) I will dream of a day when well designed and well made maternity clothes don't cost more than I spend on groceries to feed my family of five. Sometimes I even get a crazy notion that I should design inexpensive yet still stylish maternity wear and then I remember that 1) I have zero design talent and/or knowledge whatsoever and 2) Have zero extra time to start a new business regardless. Therefore, I am left in the style desert that is pregnancy.
It doesn't help that the tabloids and celebrity websites have gone nuts over celebrity "pregnancy style" and you can barely blink without seeing a photo of someone like Kristin Cavallari popping into Starbucks wearing heels, hair all done, in skinny maternity jeans (yes these are a real thing) and some to die for flowy top looking like a pregnancy goddess come to earth. I know there are real life non-celebrity women who can pull this look off too, and my hat is off to them. For me, that's not the case, and I'm okay with that. I will chalk this up to another reason pregnancy is sometimes difficult (albeit not a huge super important reason), and just focus on the important stuff, and if (when) you see me wearing the same dress over and over again this summer, you will know why.