4th Trimester Fashion

4th Trimester FashionI first heard of the 4th trimester in our childbirth class–that first three months of life when a baby is most comforted by the sensations of the womb. But there’s a 4th trimester for moms too, as we’re getting the hang of things, adjusting to a new schedule, and suddenly finding ourselves no longer pregnant, but not exactly the same shape or size we were before. I have lost a good bit of weight from my pregnancy, but I still have a ways to go to get back to my pre-pregnancy size. It’s not really a number that I’m hung up on, it’s just that…I’m cheap, and I don’t want to buy all new clothes! I do have great hope of being able to wear my old clothes, but I’m lucky in that it’s still hot here, and I can wear loose dresses for a little while before I have to think about cramming myself back into my jeans. I have mostly been wearing loose and comfy clothes around the house, but I am just starting to feel ready to wear something that might rightly be considered an outfit. My strategy is to buy a few things here and there to serve as transitional pieces, and, happily, most of these things are stretchy and forgiving and can be worn even when I am back at my pre-pregnancy weight. I sort of jokingly thought of this as “4th trimester fashion,” but I thought it would be fun to do a little style shoot, since I haven’t done one in ages.

4th Trimester FashionI think leggings are postpartum strategy 101 for most women, but I’ve never had a pair that fits well. Until half-off day at my favorite thrift store! I also got this top there, but it’s actually a dress. A really short dress! Before now, I would never have considered buying something so short, but now…leggings to the rescue. (Please note someone’s cute feet sticking out there.) These shoes are also new, and they are so comfy. I am always hunting for the world’s most perfect flat. I like the copper color, and, of course, the fact that they are shiny.

4th Trimester FashionMy favorite thing about this top, besides the color, is the open back. There’s a whole slew of things I can never wear, including strapless, spaghetti straps, and open-backed tops and dresses, so I was so excited to find a dress with an open back that actually works for me. Someone finally figured out to leave the bottom half of the back open, and I’d like to shake their hand.

4th Trimester FashionThis necklace is basically my favorite of all time. It’s a globe (that actually spins!) with a little pair of binoculars attached.

4th Trimester FashionIt felt really good to dress up a bit (and wear my new lipstick!), even though we were just taking the baby for a Saturday afternoon walk. When we decided to go, I went into our room to change out of my mom uniform, and when I came back out, Eric did a double take and said, “Wow!” It was the best compliment I could have received. I’ve got the two sweetest boys in the world.

One Little Word: Nine Months of Nurture

Mid-September seems like as good a time as any to write your first post on your word for the year, doesn’t it? Oh good, I thought so too! This is the third year I have chosen a word (2012: grateful, 2013: open), and I love how each time it’s a different experience. Last year I did a pretty extensive course on it, but this year my word has been woven into my life in a more constant way. It’s a daily reminder, and it’s one I really need. It’s been fun to look back at these past nine months and see the progression of what this word has meant to me.

In January, February, and about half of March, I was sick sick sick with my pregnancy. Nurturing myself meant spending every single day on the couch and trying not to move too much, since that made me even more nauseous. It meant trying every single nausea relief trick I could find, even though none of them worked. It meant living on crackers, bread, and seltzer water until I could keep anything else down. It meant not having any expectations of myself. It meant watching so much tv, some of it so embarrassingly bad. It meant surviving.

It also meant taking my vitamins and doing my best to send my love to my tiny baby.

In the spring I felt SO MUCH BETTER and was able to start nurturing in different ways. My husband and I took a few last “just us” trips. I walked several miles every day and got back to my regular beans/greens/grains style of eating. I could feel Micah kicking away, and I told him how much I loved him all the time. I also slept SO much. And I am glad I did!

By the summer, nurturing moved on to the nursery, where we were organizing, decorating, and putting furniture together (okay, that last one was Eric only, but one gets a halo for every piece of Ikea furniture one puts together, so I am sure he didn’t mind collecting a handful of them). I spent the rest of my time reading books to prepare for labor and getting emotionally ready for this big, wonderful, happy change in our lives.

And then one night in July I nurtured myself by taking labor one contraction and one push at a time until I was holding our sweet son. It was the best day of my life.

Suddenly there were whole new realms of nurturing to explore. I learned, and continue to learn, how to take the best care of Micah, to meet his needs, and to encourage his growth. And, of course, to shower him with love and kisses every single day. If you saw his cute little cheeks, you wouldn’t be able to stop kissing them either.

Parenting has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I’ve loved being able to nurture Eric as a father, but also as my husband. Taking time (or making time!) for our relationship has been a joy (if also a challenge!), and one I look forward to keeping up for the rest of our lives.

And nurturing has also taken on new meanings for me. It meant taking it easy during my (thankfully easy) recovery. It means taking naps when I can. It means not expecting to cook dinner every night or have the house spotless (hahaha!). It means doing my very best to be present in each moment with our son, and in each moment when he is asleep and I’m on my own.

I feel like I turned a corner when Micah was about five weeks old. “Hey,” I thought, “I could actually do something.” It wasn’t that I was unhappy–I wouldn’t trade those newborn days for anything. I just was starting to feel like I might be able to get back to doing some of the things I enjoyed doing before he was born. I talked to (the ever-supportive) Eric about it, and I made a list of fun things to do during naptime or before bed. Things like painting and journaling and reading and blogging. And then, in true Cameronian fashion, I…tried to do them all at once! This was really stressful for a few days, and then pretty hilarious. The ability to laugh at oneself can never be overrated.

Now nurturing myself means taking it one thing at a time, and enjoying the slow pace. It means embracing the time that I do have. It means being patient with myself as I lose the baby weight (not a huge preoccupation, but I would like my clothes and my rings to fit again one day!). It means taking one million pictures of my baby because I don’t want to forget anything about these precious days.

But even throughout the happy roller coaster ride of this year, there are some things about this word that haven’t changed at all, and I love that. It’s still essentially about love, of myself and of others. It’s still about being patient and present. It’s still about living every day to the fullest. It’s still a fantastic word.

On New Parenthood

At the risk of jinxing ourselves, I think we are getting the hang of this new parent thing. Eric and I were laughing the other day about how we’ve become parent ninjas. As soon as the baby’s down for a nap, we dash off to start the laundry/load the dishwasher/check our email/take a shower/make the bed. Okay, that last one was just a joke to see if you were paying attention. Ain’t nobody making the bed around here. Ain’t nobody complaining about it either.

In those first days at home, Eric asked me what I was most surprised by about being a mom so far. (He can always be counted on to ask sweet and thoughtful questions like this). I told him first that it was hard in a way that you can’t appreciate until you’re actually living it. Not impossible hard, and not even unhappy hard, but just challenging, mostly in the sleep deprivation arena. It reminded me of how I understood intellectually that morning sickness and labor were going to be hard, but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I got there. Happily, we are already sleeping an awful lot more than we did in those first weeks, but I’ll tack on an addendum: I have been surprised by how quickly you adjust to your new normal in terms of sleep. I always wondered how I would manage that, since an hour of tossing and turning in the night used to all but wreck my day. Now, six hours of sleep is my personal heaven, and I get a few naps in during the day while Micah is sleeping too. It’s awesomely manageable!

I also said that I couldn’t believe it was so much fun already. He said the same. Eric is a happy person, but I have never seen such delight in him as when he is with our son. It is amazing to watch. I’ll be down the hall putting clothes in the dryer and I’ll hear him giggling away at something Micah has done. And there are new sweet and funny things he does nearly every day.

I’d likewise add that all those parenting cliches are so, so true. It turns out that there is nothing better than holding a sleeping baby or being the recipient of a baby smile. Your whole heart is outside your body now, swaddled and lightly snoring in his crib. You can’t, in fact, imagine your life without this tiny perfect creature. I’ve never ever loved cliches this much.

And I love that we have retained the playfulness of our relationship, even while juggling so much new responsibility. The first couple of days, as we were adjusting to a new (lack of!) schedule and worrying about whether or not our baby was eating/sleeping/pooping enough, most of our conversations took place with furrowed brows and concerned expressions. As we got the hang of things, though, laughter crept right back into our lives. What you really need, I think, when you are entering a whole new world, is someone who can make you laugh, someone who can remind you that you are still you, even as you step into a demanding new role.

I have been really happy to find that my favorite things about our marriage have carried over into parenthood. We each truly want what is best for the other, and we find joy in being kind to each other. We communicate so well, and we are so good at asking each other for help when we need it. I feel like these last six weeks have shown us parts of each other that we never saw before. One night I was having trouble calming Micah, and Eric took him in his arms and said, “Here, Micah, come see your Daddy,” and I just stood there and cried, the happiest of tears.

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