*Image above via Mandy Moore. I believe she is wearing Monique L’Huillier but could not track down the dress.
I regret not having more photos taken of myself while pregnant. I specifically remember my sister urging me to do this, and yet I resisted — why would I want to capture myself while uncomfortable and swollen and ill-at-ease in my own body? I admire mothers who embrace — even love! — pregnancy. I have had friends say they’ve never felt better, more in touch with themselves, more confident, than while pregnant. To which I say: Yes!!! More of that! Go on with your bad self! For my part, though deeply grateful for my two fairly straight-forward and uncomplicated pregnancies (I hesitate to say “easy” because all pregnancies require mental and physical fortitude), I can’t say I relished the experience. I felt out of sorts about feeling…out of sorts. I did not recognize my own body. I did not understand the constant hunger, the achiness, the shift in ballast, the exhaustion. I felt alienated from my own physicality. What was that? I’d wonder, at a sudden new pang or strange sensation. I felt like a ticking time bomb, too — out of control of what was coming, of my own body. I write this to be honest with myself, with you. Because now I look back and want to scold myself: “Oh Jen! You should have just leaned into it. Just accepted it all! There’s nothing alien about being pregnant — it just is!” But such negotiating afterthoughts are both moot and ungenerous. I felt how I felt at the time, and that is that.
I did, though, love the feeling of my babies moving — the most delicious secret. I could be standing in the grocery line, and Hill would lurch to the side or kick his feet or start hiccuping, and I cherished the thought that I was the only person in the entire universe that could register and celebrate those signs of life. A secret conversation between myself and my boy that no one would ever access. Just me and him, safe together in the same body.
I would have liked more photos to immortalize those feelings and capture the time of my children’s lives spent inside my body. To celebrate that I carried those two babies around Chicago and then New York, in convenience stores and on airplanes and at weddings and on the long walking route Mr. Magpie and I used to take around our Ukrainian Village neighborhood and in the grossy knoll that is Sheep Meadow in Central Park — I did that. I carried them there and then safely to the other side, into our arms. I have one prized photograph of a two year old mini leaning against my stomach while pregnant with micro and it may be the most precious thing I own. I look at it and I see strength, and love, and determination, and I am fiercely proud.
So please let my lassitude on this front be a lesson: have the photos taken! Ask your husband to snap them, schedule the shoot, solicit friends to take loads of candids from showers! I think many of you are leaps and bounds ahead of me on this one, as I frequently receive inquiries asking what to wear to maternity shoots, baby showers, family portraits while pregnant, etc. Good on you. You will not regret it.
My top picks for your next dressed-up-while-pregnant affair below. Note that most of these are non-maternity, which was the route I preferred both for longevity of wear and because so many maternity dresses are hideous.
THIS $98 FREE PEOPLE COMES IN A RANGE OF COLORS — ADORE THE WHITE
RAY OF SUNSHINE DRESS (UNDER $50)
SWEET AND STRAIGHT-FORWARD BLUE (ADD ALLLL THE ACCESSORIES)
DRAMATIC SMOCKED POPLIN — TRULY A PORTRAIT OF A LADY STATEMENT
BREEZY CAFTAN FOR BAREFOOT BACKYARD SHOOT
SLEEPER’S LATEST SILHOUETTE IS DARLING AND COMES IN SWEET PRINTS/COLORS, TOO
ULLA JOHNSON GORGEOUSNESS (CAN’T TELL WHETHER BOTTOM TIE WOULD INTERFERE WITH BELLY OVER SECOND TRIMESTER — MIGHT NEED TO SIZE UP OR TEST BEFORE COMMITTING!)
BREEZY SEA DRESS (GOOD FOR NURSING, TOO!)
GORGEOUS PINSTRIPE FROM A NEW-TO-ME BRAND
FEEL LIKE A BROKEN RECORD, BUT A NAP DRESS!
P.P.S. An aubade to parenting — written before my first was born!
P.P.P.S. Thoughts on building a layette.