Category Archives: maternity

Dadchelor Parties: A Dream or a Disaster?

I saw this segment on ABC Nightline last week about “Dadchelor” parties becoming all the rage among soon-to-be daddies. In fact, according to one expert interviewed during the segment, roughly 1 in 5 dads has a dadchelor party.

If you’re like me and don’t know a single dad whose had such a party, a dadchelor party is a man’s version of baby shower. And because its usually given by men for men, it tends to end up looking seriously similar to a bachelor party, with loads of booze and questionable entertainment generally lasting well into the wee hours of the morning.

It would appear that most soon-to-be mommies aren’t exactly big on this idea. It’s totally immature, but I personally think it’s brilliant.

Leave it to men to figure out how to take the idea of a baby shower to the next level. How lame do ladies lunches with traditional shower games seem next to a party bus full of raucous friends with a final destination of the nearest casino? And the diaper keg is ingenious. Basically how it works is every dadchelor party participant brings a box of diapers to the party in exchange for booze. I also really like the idea of bringing a new stroller full of beer or drink-with-me Elmo games, as shown in this dadchelor party spoof:

But while I find this whole dadchelor idea totally creative on the part of soon-to-be dads and their degenerate friends, I sincerely do think it’s a good idea. From what I gather from a lot of my mommy friends, nearly every husband has a freakout moment before the birth of his first child. (Mine most definitely did.) It most often looks nothing like a soon-to-be mommy freakout. Rather than coming on fast and furiously like a freakout does for soon-to-be moms (thanks, hormones!), soon-to-be daddy drama usually builds builds slowly and sort of festers before exploding, usually after some serious nagging by the moms to get off their duff and do something on that honey-do-for-baby list.

That trigger for a lot of soon-to-parents is the issue of the nursery. Moms totally stress about getting the nursery ready and especially about setting up the crib. Dads generally don’t have the same urgency in dealing with those tasks, which drives most moms absolutely nuts. I see this lack of urgency almost as a subconscious refusal to deal with the reality of having a baby. It’s like a last grasp to hold on to life as they’ve known it. No crib roughly translates to more time to still be the kind of married-without-kids carefree that they’ve enjoyed for some time. Conversely, the crib is a physical reminder that those days are seriously numbered. And this reticence has nothing to do with not being excited about a baby or the prospect of being a dad.

So, maybe a dadchelor party is just the cathartic experience that some dads need to reconcile their fears with reality. Sure, life changes in a big way post baby, but it’s in a good way. You don’t just stop being the person you were, but you do start to learn more about the person you are. I get that for a lot of dads it’s scary to be looking at an overnight change. Personally, I wished I’d have known about these dadchelor parties back when I was pregnant. I think my husband would’ve totally benefited from one last blowout before getting down to the real business of baby.

Admittedly I would’ve also been jealous had he had one. I’m not sure when I’ll get a night on the town dadchelor style. But maybe that’s where a compromise is in order. Dad gets a dadchelor night out and mom gets a post-baby moms-gone-wild night. Sounds like a deal to me.

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Filed under daddy care, dads, diapers, family, infants, marriage, maternity, mom style, mommy care, moms, nesting, newbie parents

Baby Envy

I had a friend the other day ask me when I was going to start thinking about baby #2. The better question would have been when haven’t I been thinking about baby #2. All it took was for my post-birth stitches to heal and I was already planning for the next one.

Most new parents love the you-me-and-baby-makes-three stage, to the point that it’s a little hard to quite picture life with a second child. And it is awesome. You’re in this sort of beautiful baby bubble. But for whatever reason, my husband and I so want to be on the accelerated kid plan. Maybe it’s that we feel like we were a little late to the whole baby party (what were we waiting for anyway?) or maybe it’s because my husband was an only child and dreams of nothing less than a houseful of kids. Or maybe we just realize time is really no longer on our side. I mean, you start doing the math on how long it can take to get pregnant, how long you are pregnant (I’m of the 10-month philosophy), and how long before you sort of have things under control once baby has arrived and it’s like a two-year minimum for every kid, on average. And as painful as it may be to admit, we’re not getting any younger.

Of course making good on the promise of a second wee one is a physical impossibility for my husband and me right now. Short of a miracle–but I’m not really holding out for an act of god in this case, although in writing this I’m wondering if I should get our company prayer group praying for it–you kind of have to be in the same place for just a tiny bit of time.

This reality, of course, almost makes me want a #2 even more than I did before. And if that didn’t, the recent second baby wave among a number of my friends would do it. I’m especially fascinated, if not the slightest bit jealous, of the friends whose first babies are still little–like a year or 18 months old–and they are due again within a couple months. Are these wonderful ladies ridiculous fertile or did they use some crazy technique to shift into high-gear baby making?

Some people would say that I’m crazy; with my so-called hectic life, I need two babies in diapers like a hole in the head. True, but I still want them. And honestly, my first baby is so not meant to be an only child. Just watching him interact with other kids, I know he really wants a sibling, too.

But there are always some reservations about a #2. Most moms I know worry most about being able to love the second as much as the first. In my head that totally makes sense that so many mommies feel that way. I mean, moms have been so singularly focused on baby #1 that it’s hard to imagine having the bandwidth to be able to give that kind of love and attention to a second without somehow shafting the first. But I don’t really have that fear.

My biggest fear is about the getting pregnant with #2. Baby #1 was a whoops of sorts, so I didn’t have to stress about getting pregnant because it happened without us really planning for it. But with how eager we are to have a second, it makes me worry that our hopes will put nutty undue stress on the trying. And the last thing I want to be when thinking about a new baby is frustrated.

But I feel for mommies who don’t know that their hearts are infinitely expandable. I don’t know where I read it or heard it, but at some point it sunk in to me that when people have more children, their love is never divided; instead, it’s multiplied. I just love that idea.

While my time to multiply isn’t now, that little realization keeps me looking forward to the days when (hopefully) I won’t be able to hold all of my kids in my arms at one time. And in the meantime, I’m content to be insanely happy, even if the tiniest bit envious, for my mommy friends who are on the road to becoming mommies for the second time.

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Filed under babies, birthing, family, first year, infants, maternity, newbie parents, pregnancy

These Hips Don’t Lie

Figuring out your post-baby body takes patience, something I generally run short on. So, for the past three weeks, every day I take a look at myself to find out what, if anything, has changed while I was sleeping–well, maybe not sleeping but rather napping. I guess that’s a more appropriate term for the two- to three-hour bouts of rest that I get.

So, as best as I can tell, there’s little that has totally gone back to normal. Bladder control has resumed, which is definitely something to be really excited about. I’m no longer sprinting to the restroom at the first inkling of the thought that I might have to pee.

But there’s still a lot that’s a work in progress.

For example, the random, red, itchy bumps that sometimes graced my cheeks during pregnancy still make an occasional appearance. My hair continues to fall out, even though I continue to take my vitamins and fish oil pills. I thought for sure the vitamins would prevent the big shed, but apparently not. I have no idea when that might subside, but I’m hoping the shedding doesn’t develop into a bald spot like my hair dresser told me she developed after her son was born. (Ironic, isn’t it?)

My boobs still have a mind of their own post baby, but it seems like they might be close to finding an equilibrium, which no doubt will mean less engorgement and, therefore, less tightness and pain. (Literally, your boobs get so full sometimes that they are hard to the touch. Yet another thing I hadn’t realized would happen.) And the patch job that I got post birth is still an issue. There’s still some bleeding and slight discomfort, but I will say that I don’t need ice pack maxi pads anymore and my ibuprofen intake is way down. I don’t need either daily anymore, so I’m taking that as a sign that I’m definitely on the mend. (Thank, god.)

So, it’s my mid-section that I’m obsessing about most these days. I was really worried when I first came home from the hospital because I had this jiggly paunch for a belly. The rest of me was normal, but my tummy was definitely puffy. The puffiness has gone down–it’s true what they say about breastfeeding helping the body contract–so now I’m left with a belly that just looks like it’s never seen a sit-up. It’s not big or round, really, it’s just, well, flabby looking.

Describing your middle as flabby doesn’t sound all that good, but in a way, I can deal with that because the  way my tummy looks and feels, it seems like it’s something that a few thousand sit-ups could fix. I feel like I could almost start doing a few–and I stress a few because literally I have no core strength right now–now, but the doctors recommended no exercise for six weeks post birth, so I guess I should probably hold off for at least a little bit longer before attempting my first sit up. It will no doubt be a major feat. Maybe I should video it for kicks.

But what I find most depressing about the post-birth bod is my hips. Everything else seems to be shrinking, even if it’s at a pace that’s at odds with my impatience, but these haunches seem perfectly content to remain as open as the day Baby Aleksi was born. So, for as much as I thought I had nothing to wear when I was nine-months preggers, I have even less now. I am not exaggerating when I say I have three pairs of pants–well, technically a pair of khaki pants, a pair of khaki capris, and a pair of khaki shorts–that fit. Now that the belly is fading, my maternity clothes are falling off me, but none of my un-pregger pants fit.

And I’m so not exaggerating when I say none of my normal pants fit. (I’m sorry, but yoga pants don’t count. For as much as I love them, I can’t wear yoga pants to dinner.( Even my slouchy jeans or cargo capris, which used to be my “comfortable” clothes–you know, the pants you put on when you’re going for cute rather than sexy–won’t button.

So, my big worry is that I’m going to have to chuck all the pants in my closet and start over–as a bigger person.

My best friend assures me that the body will go back to normal. She said she had put all her pants into a garbage bag for the Goodwill after her daughter was born. But she forgot about them and about six months later found the bag and tried on all the pants again, only to find that everything was now loose.

I’d love to believe this is true, but I also think my friend might be a freak of nature. Another good friend of mine sort of confirmed my fears, telling me that although the body gets closer to normal, it’s never really the same.

With that not being the answer I really wanted to hear, I’m now considering my options. My mom keeps telling me that it’s only been three weeks and I need to give it some time, blah, blah, blah. But it seems as though there’s got to be something I can do to help things move in the direction–smaller–that I want them to move.

Last weekend I was at a baby shower and I mentioned the hip issue to a woman who had a baby boy about a year ago. She looks amazing–like so un-mom like. If she didn’t have a wee one climbing up and down her side like a little monkey, I would’ve never thought that she had had a kid about a year ago. And that’s what I’m talking about. I’m not planning on getting a mini van or high-waisted jeans any time soon, so I’d rather go without the wide hips as well as I foray into mommyhood.

So, I asked what her secret was and she said she wore a post-partum belly wrap and then a girdle in the months following her son’s birth. And she swore that both helped her return to her pre-pregnancy size. (Alternatively, she said her mom used to wrap herself in Vaseline and Saran wrap following the birth of her kids and that seemed to work.)

I don’t know that I’m about to try the Vaseline and Saran combo–I’m still not sure if you’re supposed to put clothes on top of that–but I’m very intrigued by the post-partum wrap and girdle concepts. So, I’ve been looking at some online to see if I think getting back to what I was is worth the amount of money that these contraptions cost.

Honestly, I love the promise. Basically, both of these items hold you in. The wrap basically goes around your belly and velcros shut while the girdle you pull on like underoos. The idea is to train your body to hold itself tighter, making you smaller.

But my reservation, particularly when you look at enough $70 price tags, is that these items seem to target the belly area when I’m in need of some hip repair. I’m fairly confident that I can tighten my belly up with some basic ab exercises. So, am I going to feel ripped off if I buy one of these things?

My gut–no pun intended–says yes. So, the question is whether there are products on the market that can essentially pull my hips back together?

For now, I can’t come up with anything better than just buying a really good pair of spandex shorts or one of those Bella bands, you know, those elastic bands that pregnant women in denial use to get a few more miles out of their regular jeans before they officially graduate to maternity clothes. But I’m not sure that either one of those solution is going to fit the bill, so I’m on the hunt for an alternative solution, one that will save my pants. I really don’t want to have to throw them all away. That would be a very sad day.

So, for the moment, I’m just rocking out to Shakira until I find a solution. Have a listen and enjoy! Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira feat. Wycleff Jean

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Filed under birthing, maternity, maternity fashions, mommy care, moms, newborns, post-pregnancy

Maternity a la Mode

As you probably have guessed by my lack of posts over the past few days, Baby P finally arrived!

On May 26 at 00:14 in the morning, our bundle of boy was born. Dad missed the big debut by a short 15 minutes–my apologies to anyone who was driving on I-95N on the 25th between 8pm and midnight–so grandma got to cut the cord. But dad still got to hold him before his first bath, so everything worked out ok, as things tend to do when you worry about them.

I had planned for my first post post-birth to be about my stay at the hospital, but I happened to run across this article that my friend Emili Vesilind recently wrote for the LA Times on maternity wear. Emili was one of a small group of seriously talented journalists that I spent a lot of time with when I was getting my master’s degree in magazine, online, and print journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Emili was always fashion forward and has been able to carve out a very successful career as a fashion journalist. Of course, since she’s expecting her own little bundle of boy very soon, she’s turned a trendy eye toward maternity fashions. Her latest article on the subject, “The Birth of Fashion,” (love the title) talks about how designers have said move over to maternity wardrobe staples like muumuus, replacing them with stylish alternatives like skinny jeans, boyfriend sweaters, leggings, and wrap dresses.

Personally, I was a big fan of the three-quarter length sleeve ruched t-shirt throughout my pregnancy. I had one in solid gray, a pink and maroon stripe, a light gray and dark gray stripe, and in solid red. I always felt good when I put them on because the ruching along the seams at the waist was flattering no matter how far along you were. When I had just the beginnings of the baby belly, it made me look round and not just paunchy. And then later when I had graduated to the baby bulge, the plaits expanded to make room for what turned out to be an 8 lb. baby.

At any rate, here’s an excerpt from the piece:

Ask any woman older than 50 what she wore during pregnancy and she will inevitably bring up the bows — the oversized, cartoonish ribbons that adorned much of the maternity wear of the last century.

“You see pictures of women pregnant in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and they were basically dressed like children,” said Shannon DiPadova, owner of online maternity boutique Due Maternity (duematernity.com). “Let’s just say, there were a lot of Peter Pan collars.”

Or, as designer Liz Lange, who helped de-bow maternity wear with her long-standing Target collection, puts it, “Fashion and pregnancy simply weren’t a compatible pair.”

How times have changed. In the last few years, the maternity market has undergone a dramatic face-lift. Thanks to the ongoing tabloid obsession with Hollywood’s “baby bumps” and the slow-but-steady proliferation of fashion-forward maternity lines, being pregnant — and looking on-trend throughout the nine months — couldn’t be more in vogue.

You can read the whole piece here. Enjoy!

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Filed under maternity, maternity fashions, pregnancy

Picture This

I’m one day past my expiration, I mean due, date, so I guess I have to write about something other than Baby Pienik’s birth weight and length.

I have a list of things that I’d never thought I’d do but I ended up doing. On that list are things like bungee jumping and marrying a “Drummie.” (That’s what we called the military guys who were stationed at Fort Drum, near where I grew up. Well, I added something new to that list the other day, and although it’s not nearly as adventuresome as some of the other things on my list, I’m glad I did it: I got belly photos taken.

I never thought I would sign up for something like maternity photos because I never really put myself in that spiritual momma category. You know the kind of mommies-to-be that I’m talking about. The ones who  believe pregnant bodies are always beautiful, only subscribe natural childbirth methods, and breastfeed until their kids are almost three. More power to these mommas, but that’s just not me.

In fact, I’ve always been sort of horrified at some of the ways people try to chronicle their pregnancies. Take belly casts for example. Basically how it works is mommy-to-be slathers herself and her round belly up with a casting mix–paper mache or plaster or whatever–lets it dry and ends up with a mold of her body that can then be decorated and (theoretically) turned into art. I don’t remember how I ran across this phenom, but I was so intrigued–and sometimes flabbergasted–by the end results that I do know I spent a good afternoon at work (it was a slow news day) surfing the Web to see if I could find a good execution. I did find a couple–mostly ones where the mold had been dipped in bronze–but generally the results were, shall we say, less than sophisticated. No offense intended to those mommies-to-be who tried it out; I just think I would’ve been a bit disappointed with the end result, if mine  turned out something like this (and quite frankly there are definitely scarier ones out there):

Or this:

Again, apologies if you’re a mommy-to-be who went down this road. Like I said, it’s just not for me.

So, needless to say, maternity photos, particularly bare-naked belly ones, sort of fell in this category for me. That is, until I had dinner with one of my oldest, dearest friends about a month ago. I had stopped by her house to pick up some maternity clothes–she had a huge selection of really cute stuff appropriate for pretty much any season that she so generously offered to let me borrow. We were sitting in her kitchen, eating Chinese food and drinking diet soda, when somehow we got on the topic of pregnancy regrets. Topping her list was that she didn’t have more pictures of herself pregnant.

At that point, I hadn’t really considered that I might miss being pregnant once baby arrived. But it makes sense. For the better part of a year, your wee one is always with you, experiencing whatever ups and downs your day may bring. Every little flip or turn or wiggle or kick is a quiet, private reminder that you are never alone–and you grow to count on it. Or at least I have.

So, I thought to myself maybe I should just go ahead and do it. If I hated them, I wouldn’t have to show them to anyone. But if they turned out great–or even just good–then what a great gift for my husband, who has pretty much missed the better part of my pregnancy because he’s been doing military training in North Carolina for the past year. And what a fun gift for the new grandparents.

I won’t bore you with the logistics of how I found Jessi Ringer–if you’re really curious ask me and I’ll tell you–but I basically took a look at her Web site, 5 Rings Photo, and thought, “Hey, this could work.” The added bonus was that I needed it done quickly–I had already hit the nine month mark, and was worried that I’d miss my opportunity if baby decided to debut early.

When Jessi showed up at my house at 7am, I was nervous–about what to wear, how I looked, how the photos were going to turn out. I didn’t really know what kind of maternity shots I wanted. Fun or reflective? Bold or sweet? Cute or sexy? She was so flexible, so we tried a whole bunch of different outfits, styles, backgrounds, etc. And I’m very pleased with the results. I’d say about the only regret is that I didn’t get better sleep the night before. I can tell I’m tired in the photos, but I’ll get over it.

Feel free to check out Jessi’s highlight reel here. I’ll post more samples once I get the actual photo files. In the meantime, I’ll share this one with you.

Me, baby, and Joey

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Filed under maternity, newbie parents, photos