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Fashion, Pregnancy

the comprehensive guide to maternity fashion

April 26, 2017

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I had the best intentions of sharing more maternity fashion posts this pregnancy, but that just didn’t happen. Truth be told, while I feel great this pregnancy, I feel anything but glamorous and stepping in front of the camera regularly to take photos of my outfits was just. not. happening. Ha!

That said, I have made an effort to try and dress normally and in a way that was put-together most of this pregnancy. And I have a lot of thoughts about clothes the second time around.

In short, maternity clothes stink. It’s hard to find good options that are comfortable and flattering throughout all stages of pregnancy. The clothes that do fit and wear well are almost always insanely expensive, and even when you do splurge on good quality, it’s not always a guarantee that your clothes will retain their shape and be worth the money you invested. Plus, aside from maternity-specific stores, finding brands that actually stock maternity clothes in their stores is practically impossible. I’ve purchased and returned so many clothes this pregnancy it’s comical.

So, after a nearly full-term pregnancy, what has made the cut, what brands have I loved, and what items have been worn time and time again? Let’s dive in!

My Most-Loved Items 
These are the pieces that I’ve found myself reaching for time and time again, the best of the best, if you will. It’s hard to know ahead of time what those items will be, but after 37+ weeks, it’s become clear that these are the winners. 

  1. Hatch Collection Bateau Top $158
    I know that some of you are going to say I’m crazy for recommending a top that costs this much, but it’s been a lifesaver. I’ve worn it time and time again, and have enjoyed the way it fit in the first trimester as much as the third. It’s designed to be able to be worn post-pregnancy, too, so I’m hopeful I’ll continue to get use out of it! It was the only Hatch piece I ended up keeping and I wish I would have purchased more.
  2. GAP Maternity Jeans $52
    I don’t have a specific link to the jeans I’m wearing since I bought them for Ainsley’s pregnancy, but the look similar to these jeans. They are comfortable, they hold their shape (!!!) and have worked well throughout pregnancy.
  3. GAP Rib-Knit Mockneck Dress $43
    I’ll go as far as to say this dress is a must-have item! I LOVE wearing it and feel like it’s very flattering throughout many stages of pregnancy.
  4. Liz Lange for Target Tee Dress $24
    I have the long-sleeved version of this dress, but I linked to the short sleeve version since summer is coming. I avoided all body-conscious dresses last pregnancy, but have really enjoyed this dress with the second go around.
  5. TK

Favorite Stores for Maternity Clothes

  1. Hatch Collection 
    Expensive clothing but from the one piece I kept and the others that I tried on, they are worth the clothes are worth the price! The only thing I really didn’t like were their jeans.
  2. Old Navy Maternity
    These pieces don’t fall into the “quality” category, but I do have a number of items from Old Navy that have worn fairly well during this pregnancy.
  3. Gap Maternity
    I’ve really loved almost everything I purchased from Gap this pregnancy. In fact, most of the items I’ve worn regularly have been Gap Maternity, so I guess that says something. Great for basics, including jeans, t-shirts and casual dresses.
  4. Pink Blush Maternity 
    This is a hit-or-miss recommendation. Some of their clothes have been really cute and fit well, others have been a total disaster. The dress I’m wearing in the photo above has been a favorite of mine as well as their robes (for labor/delivery/postpartum) and some of their tops. Proceed with caution and expect to return about as much as you buy.
  5. Stitch Fix Maternity 
    I got a couple maternity fixes, once during Ainsley’s pregnancy and once during this pregnancy. The two pair of leggings that I LIVED in with both pregnancies were both from maternity-focused fixes. I know Stitch Fix can be hit or miss, but I really appreciated that they had some different brands than what I would have found in stores or online.

Places/Items I DON’T Recommend

  1. H&M Maternity
    I didn’t have any success, despite trying a lot of items from their maternity collection. Everything ran super small and shrank in the wash. I would recommend just shopping their regular items and sizing up, which I did with some success in the sweater department.
  2. AG Maternity Jeans
    I’m so sad about this. I spent a ridiculous amount on a pair of AG maternity skinny jeans, and while they are certainly the most comfortable things on the face of the earth when you first put them on, they are a total nightmare as you wear them. I’ve never owned a pair of jeans that have bagged out this bad. I can’t wear them for more than a couple hours without needing to wash/dry them again.
  3. ASOS Maternity
    Maybe it was just me, or the fact that my style and preferences have changed since my last pregnancy, but I didn’t find ASOS Maternity to be a good fit this time. The clothes were all ill-fitting and the few items I kept ended up shrinking terribly even after following the wash/care instructions.

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

A letter to my second-born

April 5, 2017

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When I was pregnant with Ainsley, I wrote A Letter to my Firstborn a few weeks before she was due. All jokes about middle or second children aside, I didn’t want to let this precious time before I meet our second daughter go by without writing a letter to her.

To my second daughter, my sweet baby girl, a child I don’t yet know and yet love more than I could have imagined; we’re ready for you. If you anyone asked me about how I was feeling just a few weeks ago, I would have probably given them a different answer. But now, as I sit here writing this letter, listening to a playlist created just for this little girl’s birthday, I can say without a doubt that we are ready.

Your big sister informed me last night that she’s excited for you to arrive so you two can “play toys.” And because we’ve promised that when you arrive we will celebrate with birthday cake. Everywhere we go she tells people that when baby sister arrives we are going to have CAKE! All jokes aside, I have already been praying over your relationship. Because while everyone is quick to tell me that sisters are the best, I’m also aware that sibling relationships can be strained, competitive and forced and I want nothing more than for you two to be the best of friends.

Late at night and early in the morning I find myself wondering how my arms and heart can possibly make room for two. It makes my heart swell and crumble all at once, thinking about you and your sister both here in this house, asleep in those two bedrooms side by side. How will I have room to care for and love another just as much as I have loved the first? It seems nearly impossible. And yet I’ve seen your sweet little profile on ultrasound photos and I’ve been kept awake by your kicks and rolls and I know without a doubt that our love will multiply in a way made possible only by God.

Ainsley has a BIG story matched only by her big personality. But I’m already praying you to develop your own unique, distinct personality and that you feel comfort living in the story God has written for your life. I pray you are compassionate, tender-hearted, self-assured and deeply rooted in God’s word and truth. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you might end up being a little introverted like your momma. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking since your sister is your dad’s twin in almost every way.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to experience pregnancy again, to experience motherhood and yes, even the newborn days once more with you, sweet baby girl.

I feel ready. I don’t feel ready. But I know that we’ll figure it all out along the way.

Love,
Mom

Family, Fashion, Pregnancy

March Mom Edit :: What I’m Loving Now

March 29, 2017

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At nearly 34 weeks pregnant, is it safe to say that I’m in the home stretch? I’m certainly embracing that mentality, and the products I’m sharing about below have been making my life a little more glamorous and bearable during the last month and a half of pregnancy. Here’s what I’ve been loving lately…

I took a break from regular fixes for a while, but scheduling a maternity Stitch Fix at 30 weeks was a fantastic way to get excited about getting dressed while super pregnant.

I recently ordered these bottles for baby and I’m intrigued.

Someday I’ll get my eyebrows micro-bladed, but until then this has been doing the trick.

Yesterday I ordered a custom name sign for baby girl from House of Belonging. Can’t wait to show you!

I’m combating stretch marks with this and this and so far so good.

It’s official, this is the most perfect diaper bag around.

The hair care system that’s been transforming my tresses over the last two months.

A podcast for moms that’s encouraging me on work from home days.

We finally settled on this double jogging stroller.

Madison 

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Body Image :: The Second Time Around

March 28, 2017

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Pregnancy is a gift. I’ve reminded myself of that more than a few times during this pregnancy. The thing is, I have had a wonderful pregnancy thus far. When I get asked how I’m feeling this time around, I can without hesitation answer “great!” because I really do feel good. Sleep has been amazing, I don’t have any major aches and pains and our pregnancy has been very uneventful. I’ve also been able to stay active, much more so than last time, and sometimes I’ll even remark to Joe that I have days where I forget I’m pregnant. I think that’s saying something at 33 weeks along!

But I would be remiss if I said that pregnancy has been easy on me mentally. The truth is, gaining weight, even during pregnancy and with good reason, is hard when you’ve ever struggled with body image. I’ve had more than a couple moments I don’t look too fondly upon during this pregnancy, tears and fears about ever feeling or looking myself again. It’s a little puzzling to me since I’ve done this once before, but none the less the fears and false beliefs are something I’ve had to come face to face with. I don’t share this to get encouragement or to gain sympathies, but rather to encourage other women out there who may be feeling the same way.

It’s hard to see your body change. It’s a mental game to see the number on the scale tick up at each appointment, feeling both thankful for your body’s ability to make room for a new life while also feeling fearful. Perhaps you’re like me and you’re not one of those people who gains 25 pounds during pregnancy. Maybe you eat really healthy and are dedicated to your workouts and you’re still staring at a 30+ pound weight gain with weeks to go. Or maybe it’s not the number on the scale at all but just feeling generally uncomfortable in your skin and unlike your former self.

It’s okay. It’s okay to feel those feelings and also feel so thankful you could cry.

And once you have that baby and see what you have to “work with” to get back in shape after baby? Let’s agree to have grace for our postpartum bodies, too. I can’t say I’ll be breakdown-free for the next seven weeks, or the six months following. We’re only human, right? But you better believe I’ll take each one of those breakdown moments and use it as an opportunity to exercise thankfulness….

Lord, thank you for the opportunity and gift to carry this baby. Thank you for a body that is capable and for the advancements in medicine that have made this pregnancy possible. Thank you for a healthy little girl and her older sister, too. Thank you for allowing us as women to experience pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum phase of life. Please give me the wisdom and perspective to appreciate this temporary stage of life and embrace all it has to offer while looking forward to the future, too.

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

NW Iowa Fertility and OB Practitioner Guide

March 23, 2017

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After Ainsley was born, I did a full post on all the doctors and health professionals I used and loved through our fertility journey and pregnancy/birth. Now that we have moved and are located in a different town and state, I thought it was time to do the same thing for the new providers we love and trust in case others are looking for a doctor or care provider.

When we moved to our small town I was worried about finding a comprehensive and holistic approach to my fertility issues. I loved my doctor in Minneapolis and felt very well cared for while we lived there. She treated me with progesterone, understood charting and unusual cycles and was always open for dialogue about health issues and questions I had. Although I wasn’t able to find a single care provider/OB who encompassed all of those things in our small town, I think the crew below has done a wonderful providing me with comprehensive and holistic care during this time.

Fertility Care Services // Guiding Star Orange City :: Kari Beadner
I was introduced to the Creighton Model Fertility Care System by friends once I moved to our town and mentioned my fears about finding new care providers. It’s a holistic and natural approach to women’s health that focuses on treating the underlying issues rather than covering up those issues with a band-aid. Kari is the instructor who taught me the model and how to chart my cycles using the system and worked as a guide and resource when working with my doctors.

She is now the director of Guiding Star Orange City, which provides a host of resources for the many areas of your reproductive journey, including breastfeeding and birthing classes and education, doula services and more. We’re actually planning on using Kari as our doula for baby #2!

Creighton Model Fertility Care Doctor // Dr. Pallone, Family Medicine Center :: Sioux City, IA
Since we no longer have a Creighton Model Fertility Care doctor in our hometown, I had to go to a neighboring city to have a doctor oversee my progesterone levels throughout pregnancy and prior to conception of this baby. Although I didn’t have to see Doctor Pallone all that often, I felt well cared for and listened to through this journey. He also agreed to oversee my progesterone levels remotely, so I could do many of my blood tests at our local hospital which made it much more manageable.

OB and Prenatal Care // Dr. Turek, Orange City Area Health System :: Orange City, IA
We don’t technically have OB doctors in our small town – our doctors are family practice doctors who do it all – so that was a huge adjustment for me! I talked with a LOT of people before making a decision on who to doctor with for my OB care and felt very much at peace with my decision to see Dr. Turek. He’s been calm, measured and reassuring with his approach to prenatal care, which works well with my personality since I tend to be a little more high strung in this area given our history.

Chiropractic and Acupuncture // Dr. De Jong, De Jong Chiropractic and Acupuncture :: Orange City, IA
I’ve been a big fan of acupuncture for a number of years and saw a wonderful acupuncturist in Minneapolis who specialized in fertility care and helping women grow their families. That same acupuncturist worked with my chiropractor and acupuncturist here in Orange City to create a care plan for me. It included a series of herbal supplements during the months leading up to conception and herbs taken during the first trimester of this pregnancy along with regular acupuncture and chiropractic care.

Madison