Pop tops

I blame it on my proclamation that I would not begin wearing maternity clothes until I was about 16 weeks along. The belly has popped, and this week — almost a month ahead of schedule — I found myself suddenly wearing the five maternity shirts which are neither stained nor bought in tentlike sizes to accommodate Thomas’ gargantuan summer pregnancy.

And I’m really annoyed, because I hate maternity clothes.

This wasn’t always the case. When I became pregnant with Maddux, it wasn’t more than a week or two before I decided it was absolutely necessary to buy all sorts of not-very-fashionable “transition pants” and accouter myself in an array of tops that accentuated the tiny hint of belly. First-time moms are so cute that way.

The transition pants (and subsequent hideous-yet-much-more-comfortable full-panel Jeans of Shame) were fun for all of about 10 weeks. Then, once I was decidedly too big to squeeze back into them, I began yearning for pants that actually came in numerical sizes and, you know, fit properly. The maternity tops were fun for awhile longer, but around the middle of the third trimester, I began hating them as well. The capacious empire-waist tops — invariably just a tad more cutesy than what I would normally wear — reminded me that I was still heavily and uncomfortably pregnant. As soon as Maddux got her Vitamin K shot, I happily packed away all the florid gestational tent-clothing and squeezed my postpartum jiggle into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe (to what I’m positive was the great dismay of those people who had to be seen with me).

When I got pregnant the next two times, I swore that I would wear my pre-pregnancy clothing until I burst out of it. When my waistline expanded, rather than caving in to comfortable panels, I pulled out my old “fat jeans.” When my belly began to round out underneath my body-conscious tops, I bought new things with ruching and draping and empire waists. But not from the maternity section. Oh, no. Not until sometime in the mid-second-trimester did I cave in and set foot in a maternity section. Somewhere in the family archives, there is a picture of me at 16 weeks pregnant with Thomas — improbably shoehorned into skinny jeans. Hey, you do crazy things when you spend half of a four-year period cooking oven-buns.

And then came this baby. Maybe it was the 10-pound first-trimester weight gain. Perhaps a fourth baby was simply more than my threadbare abdominal muscles could contain. It could be that my recently acquired pancake-flat mom butt makes capacious shirts look sloppy instead of sexy. Whatever the reason, I discovered this week that almost all of my most forgiving  shirts — ruched, baggy, or otherwise — were beginning to make me look like a Weeble.

So it is that I have reluctantly rotated a few maternity tops into my wardrobe. I am already sick of them, but they make me look pregnant instead of enticing small children to try their hand at knocking me down. (Not that that stops my children. They haven’t even heard of Weebles; they just enjoy running head-on into people’s legs.)

In happier news, the baby’s heartbeat has been clocked at a perfectly healthy 150 beats per minute. Also, I have stopped barfing. It is a great feeling, being hungry for things other than chicken noodle soup. And now I got me some eatin’ shirts!

Here I am, for your viewing pleasure and in super-chic “transition jeans” as usual, at 12 weeks pregnant.

Chicken soup for the bowl

I’ve often said I wished it were possible to install a Plexiglass porthole in one’s abdomen so  one could observe every stage of fetal development (and, if one is a crazy person like yours truly, check obsessively for vital signs). The next best thing to a window on the womb, I suppose, is morning sickness. And let me tell you, it is a far, far second.

For the first seven weeks of pregnancy, the only indications I was with child were an unshakable lethargy and near-constant hair-trigger irritability (Why didn’t my children leap immediately into bed when I  tried to put them down a half-hour early so I could be in bed before 8? Why is the neighbor doing yard work at 2 in the afternoon? Why is my husband taking so long to cook me my dinner?!!!)

Naturally, being the paranoid mama that I am, I was convinced that my utter sloth and irrational rage were not signs enough that all was well within my unreliable uterus. So I was overjoyed when, at 8 weeks pregnant, my stomach violently ejected a bowlful of oatmeal between breakfast and school drop-offs. Now that I had conclusive evidence that there was still something in there, I could go on with my life.

That lasted about a week.

At nine weeks, I started hurling like Roy Halladay at a double-header. Some of my hurls could have been clocked at 90 mph. Some were just … sliders. Luckily for everyone who uses our powder room, they all made it into the strike zone.

Oatmeal was the first food stricken from the lineup. Next came Cheerios, and soon, toast and sandwiches. Any red-meat-based entrees have had to be benched.

Meanwhile, spicy tuna — on a nine-month suspension — kept yelling, “Put me in, coach!”  Oh, spicy tuna roll! Would that I could.

By this point, my menu is as follows:

Campbell’s chicken noodle soup




Mango spritzers

I even had to retire my vanilla teas this week and have rotated my trusty Coke Zero back into the starting lineup. Is it gross to drink cola for breakfast? Yes. Yes it is. But not as gross as vanilla-flavored stomach juices.

Because a bowl of fruit is hard-pressed to provide 100 calories, I have been eating chicken noodle soup two meals a day. It’s not a varied menu, but it’s one that my stomach can handle. Chris hit upon the ingenious innovation of presenting my soup in a giant mug with a handle, so I can eat it in bed like an invalid while watching Real Housewives, beginning 10 minutes after the kids are tucked in their beds.  Except for the vomiting part, this is the life!

Of course, there is the slight issue of Campbell’s chicken noodle being 95 percent salt, along with that fact that salt increases bloating, and also that pregnancy in general increases bloating. These are things I’ll worry about when I’m no longer racing to hug the porcelain, driven to spasmodic dry-heaving by the overwhelming aroma of Honey Nut Cheerios.

In the meantime, I will comfort myself with the knowledge that this is almost like having a window into my pregnancy.

And here I am, between heaves, at 11 weeks pregnant, with either the beginnings of a baby belly or a lot of soup-related edema.

Back in the stirrups again

Every once in awhile, James and Maddux persuade me to let them have a “sleepover.” I know I shouldn’t even entertain the idea of any kind of co-sleeping arrangement, and that it will end horribly in the wee hours of the morning, but I allow it anyway — and vow afterward that it will never happen again.

My philosophy regarding childbirth is very similar to my policy on sleepovers. After Thomas, I was certain I was done having kids (and that was only partly because I missed the window for any kind of medication whatsoever).  I was confident in my decision to limit the hooligan squad to three — until March of last year, when, if we’d planned a fourth from the beginning, I would have been due to give birth. It was that month that my birth control failed and I found myself very unhappily pregnant. I cried for a week, and then began planning the nursery, the minivan purchase, the baby blog. A month later, however, I was sitting in the emergency room, learning that the pregnancy had never progressed beyond five weeks. I’d already made an emotional branch on our family tree for Baby No. 4, and now it sat empty. The news was a raw reminder of the three miscarriages that preceded the birth of my little Maddux. My heart was broken, and our family no longer felt complete.

There was another miscarriage in December, and more crying. Chris and I agreed that we would try for a fourth until July (whereupon my chart would be marked “advanced maternal age” despite my obvious youth and hotness).

And here we are, squeaking in three months before the deadline. It started with my gaining two pounds while trying to blast off my subcutaneous fat on the South Beach diet. I grumbled to Chris that low-carb diets were inherently flawed (and only partly because I subsist almost entirely on carbohydrates) and vowed to increase my cardio minutes. Then, because we were planning to drink at the kids’ school fundraiser, I took a pregnancy test just so I could enjoy my cocktails with a clear conscience. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the real reason behind my South Beach weight gain. Because of the two miscarriages last year, I refused to blog until I was convinced the baby was going to remain safely in utero for longer than a fortnight or two. And happily, at my second ultrasound, the technician pointed out an 8-week bean (which my obstetrician later identified as a 7-week 2-day bean) and a strong heartbeat. Based on careful calculation of medical data, my obstetrician gave me an official due date of January 9, and based on careful calculation using my history of early babies and bad timing, I have given myself an unofficial due date of December 24.

I happily quit the South Beach diet, which apparently doesn’t work if you’re pregnant, anyway, and immediately gained another several pounds. No ripped abs for me this summer. I’ve gone off my morning cup of coffee in favor of horrible-tasting but harmless vanilla tea, traded workouts for naps, and gagged down one daily prenatal vitamin and twice-daily doses of synthetic progesterone, which — because pregnancy isn’t tiring enough as it is — bears a heavy-machinery warning on its label.

It’s going to suck, will probably end painfully in the wee hours of the morning, and — thanks to a urology appointment for Chris in the near future — will definitely never happen again. As for the sleepovers, it’s been a few months, so I guess the kids are due. Sigh.

And, because I know you skipped over all the boring writing so you could view the construction of the baby apartment, here are the 10-week belly pics. (No, there are none from before my 8-pound weight gain, because such hubris would have killed the baby immediately.)