Monday, February 23, 2015

To All You Still in the Thick of It

I've been thinking of you all a lot lately. And I wanted to say I'm sorry.

I'm so, so very sorry.

I'm so sorry you still feel the pain of infertility day in and day out.

I'm so sorry that pretty much every post I make from here on out is going to remind you of your pain.

I'm so sorry that you have to put on a happy, supportive face whenever you stop by these here parts of the internet.

I'm so sorry I couldn't take you with me when I left the infertile island.

I wish I could bridge the gap, but I have no idea where to start.

I just want you here on this other side with me. I want you here so bad, it hurts.

I want you to know what it feels like to take a pregnancy test and actually have it turn positive.

I want you to know what it feels like to tell the world that you're pregnant and have each person respond with only the purest joy that ever existed.

I want you to know what it feels like to finally get to buy all those maternity clothes and baby necessities you've always wanted.

I want you to know what it feels like to not have to cringe, or cry, or hide when another friend announces another pregnancy.

I want you to know what it feels like to have a little one growing inside you, kicking and squirming at the most random times, bringing a smile to your face with each and every movement, no matter what time of day.

I want you to know what it feels like to finally have dreams come true after helplessly hoping for so long.

I want you here so bad, it hurts. 

I want to take away your pain.

And if I could, I would in a heartbeat. Because I know now, more than ever, that your pain was never supposed to exist.

I know this simply because of how right it feels to be on the other side.

And knowing and feeling that makes me hurt for you all the more.

Infertility was never supposed to happen. You were not supposed to have to suffer so hard, so long, and so alone. You were not supposed to be so horribly cursed.

Why can't I take it away?

I'm sorry that all I have for you now is prayers.

And support, if you ever need it, but I also understand how that might sting coming from a pregnant gal.

I'm so sorry.

Just because it seems like I've moved on in many ways, doesn't mean I've forgotten you. Far from it. In fact, I think of you all now more than ever.

Know that I'm angry for you.

I hurt for you.

I question for you.

I think often of you.

I'm praying for you.

Lord, please take it. Take their pain away. Take their suffering. Take their sadness, their loneliness, their barrenness.

Let them feel alive again.

Free them from the chains of infertility.

Let them be joyful. Let them be fruitful.

And let me remember always to keep them in my heart.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

3 Tips for Building a Maternity Wardrobe on the Cheap

Enter: the bump!

It's cute, it's fun, and, in most cases, it's the first very obvious sign of your growing bundle of joy. 

You love it. You really, really do! 

But soon you realize, things just ain't gonna fit like they used to. 

So what's a gal to do? 

With a baby on the way, it's not like you've got an abundance of cash lying around to grow the wardrobe. At least, not most of us average folk anyway.

Lucky for us, building a maternity wardrobe is actually very easy to do on the cheap!

First of all, you only need stretchy waistlines and slightly-longer-in-the-front tops and dresses for a few months during and after pregnancy. Then you'll tuck 'em away until you're ready to use them for a few months during and after your next pregnancy. This means you don't really need to invest in many high quality, built-to-last-forever items. 

And secondly, well... that's where my tips come in! 

Now, since this is only pregnancy numero uno for me and I'm only 26 weeks in, I may not be the best expert here, but these tricks have worked for me so far. And I hope they can work for you too! 

Let's get right to it.

1. Work with what you already have.

The best first step in putting together an inexpensive (and awesome) maternity wardrobe is taking note of the non-maternity items in your current wardrobe that would still work with a growing bump. Why buy things you already have, ya know?

Flowy shirts, wrap dresses, and yoga pants are great examples of such items. At least for wearing through the 2nd trimester, I'd say.

top and undershirt from Old Navy Maternity

And in addition to your non-maternity items that straight up fit over your cute popped belly, there are also a few other items you can easily adjust to fit your growing body.

For example, your bras! No need to purchase new ones if it's just your band size that's expanding. Instead, buy yourself some of these: bra back extenders. Thanks to those cheap little suckers, I'm still wearing my pre-pregnancy bras and they're still soooo comfortable. So, until my cup runneth over, AKA my cup size increases, you'll find me comfortably fitting into my old bras, and cheaply. 

You can also wear your non-maternity jeans (and any sort of zip-up pant, really) for a bit longer with this little helper: the Bellaband. You keep your pants unzipped to fit the belly, while the stretchy band does the hard work of keeping your pants up. I wore mine regularly during the first trimester and it was lovely. 

So, don't discredit your non-maternity clothes too quickly. With a quick sort of all your items and a few inexpensive helper items, you might already have more to wear than you realize!

2. Borrow, borrow, borrow!

Early in my pregnancy, I was blessed to have a friend offer me her maternity wardrobe. Talk about growing the wardrobe for cheap!

Think about it, though. Like I said before, you only wear maternity clothes for a few months during and after pregnancy. So if you have a friend or relative who's recently had a baby, chances are she's packed those clothes away and planned on forgetting them until the next pregnancy happens. So while they're not being used, it's the perfect time for you to swoop in and kindly ask if you can borrow a few (or ALL) of her items. Sure, asking might be a bit awkward, but what's the worst that could happen, really? She says no? Yup, actually, that's probably the worst that could happen. Totally worth the awkward asking and probably receiving free maternity clothes, if you ask me. 

tunic from Old Navy Maternity

There are just a few tricks to making this borrowing tip work right...

You've got to find a friend who's generally the same shape and size as you. But that shouldn't be too challenging, as the stretchiness of most maternity items makes it so that you don't have to be a perfect shape and size match.

You've got to find a friend whose style is similar to yours. Otherwise you're just going to feel like you're awkwardly wearing someone else's clothes for several months.

And you've got to be relatively clean. If you're the type that spills stuff on everything, you may not actually be a good candidate for maternity clothes borrowing. In this case, I'd find a friend who's done growing her family and see if she wouldn't mind giving you her maternity wardrobe for keeps. 

3. Shop the sales. 

Once you've sorted through your normal wardrobe and begged a few friends for borrowed maternity clothes, there's only one thing left to do.

And that's SHOP!

top from Pea in the Pod

Ladies, I cannot even tell you how many awesome, inexpensive maternity items there are out there waiting for you to buy. All you have to do is look. And I especially recommend looking at the sale items.

Aside from the maternity leggings I'm wearing in the pictures above, all the other items were bought very inexpensively from the sale racks of shops with HUGE maternity sale sections. 

The jeweled top from Pea in the Pod, originally around $70, I bought for around $25.

And the green top and gray tunic from Old Navy, I bought for less than $10 each. 

Cheap, cheap, cheap! And yet all decent to high quality items! 

Here are my go-to maternity clothing shops for items on the cheap:

For inexpensive and decent quality, this is my favorite! Just look at that sale section!! And they usually have some sort of 20% or 40% sale going on on top of their already discounted items, so if you're looking to bulk up your maternity wardrobe on the cheap, make this your first stop. 

I'm definitely not usually an Old Navy shopper, but their maternity items just can't be beat, especially if you're looking for standard items. Their jeans are wonderfully comfortable and affordable, as are their black slacks, and all their tops, really. I do recommend reading reviews on items to get your sizing right. Their maternity items tend to run a little snug, so I generally size up, but it really depends on the item.  

One little bit of a bummer is most of their maternity stuff can only be bought (and returned) online. Meaning you can't try on anything before buying. And if you don't like, you have to ship back. BUT! I say it's still worth it. You just have to see those discounts to believe me.  

The Gap also has a great maternity sale section, mostly online. And they also have sales on top of their sales going on all the time too. Their items are a little more expensive than Old Navy, but also higher in quality. Pro tip: You can combine your online shopping carts from Old Navy and the Gap since they're both owned by the same company, thus saving you on shipping costs. You're welcome!

For really high quality items, this is my go-to. I do have to be careful not to be tempted by their non-sale stuff, because that stuff is WAY out of the budget. But it's easy enough to avoid their lovely non-sale stuff because their sale section is, just like Old Navy, ginormous! I highly recommend shopping at a Pea in the Pod store, as they have a great big sale selection available and you get to try it on before buying, but if that's not possible, online works great too! 

It's worth noting that you won't ever see Maternity Destination or Target on my go-to list. While their items are cute, I find the quality is lacking, sometimes severely. And since you can get higher quality items from the maternity sale racks of other the shops, I'd say skip 'em. But that's just my two cents. 


So, what do ya think? After all those tips and tricks and sale shopping links, does an inexpensive maternity wardrobe sound doable?

I sure hope so!

I will say, I think it's totally worth investing in just a few super high quality, more expensive, non-sale-rack maternity items if you've got room in the budget. Occasions like baby showers and that maternity portrait session you just booked kinda call for it. The key, though, is balancing those few expensive items with a whole bunch of non-budget-breaking items. Mix and match the costly with the non-costly to your heart's content, and with these three tips, I bet no one will be able to tell how very affordably you just built your maternity wardrobe.

In fact, within the next year, I bet pregnant mamas will probably be asking you if they can borrow your maternity wardrobe.

Feels good, doesn't it?

And to the ladies who have done this pregnancy thing before: What are your wardrobe building recommendations? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments!

Happy thrifty sorting, borrowing, and shopping, mamas!

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