Friday, May 27, 2016

Happy Friday: It's Not All Bad

Of course there are some plus sides to this pregnancy caper... Such as a new mode of dressing for a few months. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant myself, but I have noticed a tonne of celebrities getting themselves up the duff or having babies of late. Blake Lively and Chrissy Teigen are the most visible of late, and they have had some great maternity looks...

Not giving up on heels just because she's pregnant
Pregnancy #2 - at Cannes last week

Then of course there is the Duchess of Cambridge, whose Dalmatian print jacket sent me into raptures long before I fell pregnant.

Admittedly, her outfits are generally covered by wintry coats
There's also obviously a plethora of independent bloggers who are nailing maternity looks, with best of the bunch here in Australia being Nadia Bartel of shopping heaven website The Con-nection and WAG and weather girl Rebecca Judd.

As you can see from the looks above, the main thing about maternity dressing is to not try to hide the fact that you have a bump by dressing exclusively in muu-muus. I am sure there will come a time when there is a place for such an item (at home, alone, cramming peanut butter into your hungry mouth) but generally speaking simple, clingy dresses in a block colour are going to get you through. Not wanting to spend a huge amount on a wardrobe that has a short life span, I have been loving the slim-fit dresses (can I call them sausage dresses? that's what I call them in my head) from Cotton On.

While previously I would have thought twice about a skin-tight dress (back when I hallucinated that my flat stomach was sticking out...), nowadays I am loving wearing skin tight dresses. I can eat as much as I like and you can't tell what's baby and what's taco and quesadilla! It is so liberating!

Atmos&Here (stocked by The Iconic) and Witchery also have a bunch of dresses, stretch tees and tight leggings that do the trick, and of course Asos and TopShop have what looks like a pretty great range of maternity gear also (although I'm resisting wearing maternity clothes at this stage, and frankly hoping to put it off for as long as possible!). I have also found that Country Road jeggings - which have always had a larger waist and never fit me previously - are working their magic in the pants department (so far).

Bartel also recommends long line coats and vests, which serve to elongate the body and balance the proportions somewhat of a protruding bump.

Job done.

Finally, as we see from all the ladies (and provided there aren't any health reasons to prevent it) keep wearing your high heels. A little extra height never hurt any baby... ;o)

Ditch the slippers!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Am I Your Mummy?

The strangest thing happened at the end of November 2015.

After over a year of half-hearted attempts at getting pregnant (as in, I didn't really care so didn't obsess or worry, to the point I was - in all honesty - secretly relieved that I wasn't pregnant) ... I fell pregnant. Tomorrow I will clock in at 28 weeks pregnant. In August there will be a kid. That kid will be my responsibility (shared of course with my partner in crime, hubby).

Being pregnant hasn't been what I thought it would be. Things kicked off in earnest in January with round-the-clock morning sickness. I was disillusioned at best to think it was a trifling, highly feminine and delicate illness that really wasn't that bad. I was a barely functioning zombie. When I finally found the energy to get off the couch to walk the dog, I found myself vomiting into bushes. There was a disastrous attempt at going to a gym class, as I struggled to fight against the sickness and resume normal life. Mental note - denial is not a coping mechanism for morning sickness. I could barely make it to the fridge (don't worry, I got there... And to McDonalds) to shovel more carbs into my gob to make the nausea fade away. [NOTE: I found acupuncture of great benefit during this shitty month of my life. Even my needle phobia couldn't keep me away from the joint]. [DOUBLE NOTE: Hot chips also  saved my life - "Could I have a side of fries with my fries please?" It was utterly shameful].

Disgusting. Necessary.

Then, like all the books tell you, at 12/13 weeks it all just faded away.

As a non-Earth mother type, who has not embraced this pregnancy business in the manner of those who exaltedly cup their pregnant bellies in one hand and a chia pudding in the other as she expresses her #mummybliss and #blessed - ness to the world, it has been something of a struggle.

My boobs went bananas almost immediately - sore to touch, an entire bra size larger (accompanied by a frustrating fight with a bra-fitter called Dolly in a department store change room where I fought for my right to wear a lacy, underwire, non-maternity bra for as long as I could before I I would be forcibly transitioned to loathsome, ugly maternity bras. While I won the battle, she won the war when in her parting shot she told me my breast milk wouldn't flow on account of my selfish propensity for lace and underwire - let the mummy judgment begin!).

Then there has been the agony of a stomach expanding to accommodate another being. There are days where I feel like my stomach is being torn, one tendril of muscle and skin at a time, all day long. By the afternoon, my back aches. Sleeping is uncomfortable and disturbed as my unwieldy stomach imposes strict limitations on movement and position. I can't exercise like I used to because I get puffed, I'm carrying about 7 extra kgs (so far), and my stomach just generally gets in the way. I have random pimply break-outs that make me want to hide under the bed. And then there is the insanity of an alien life force kicking, wiggling and hiccupping IN YOUR STOMACH throughout the day and night. It just doesn't seem natural to me.

You've been living where?

The weight gain and the belly have been getting to me. I can't believe I ever had fat days pre-pregnancy. I used to have a flat stomach for goodness' sake - what was I thinking?! I never realised the great joy that freedom of movement actually brought to me. It simply felt natural, obvious and my God given right as a human being to be able to run, jump, skip and dance like BeyoncĂ© in my living room. After spending much of my adult life being bombarded with the message that weight gain is the worst thing that can happen to a woman, the fact that it is happening - and it is to a large extent beyond my control - is distressing and counter-intuitive, despite logic telling me this is a natural process and not to fret. I have had to stop looking at certain Instagram feeds (mainly the ones of women who are in the same stage of pregnancy as me, are teeny tiny and still somehow doing kick boxing). I also worry about the post-natal implications for my figure: Will I ever look the same again? Will I ever physically feel the same again? Will I ever stop eating hot chips??

Then there are the mental gymnastics. The rage at knowing my career will be hampered by impending and actual motherhood (at least for a few years). The resentment and frustration that accompanies the understanding that in the partnership I have with my husband, he simply cannot share the physical burden of the first few years of child bearing, birthing and breast feeding.  The fear that something might be wrong with the child if I continue to have such negative thoughts throughout pregnancy. The guilt I feel for not enjoying pregnancy when I know so many others love it, and - worse - that others would kill to be pregnant and to have a child. And the genuine concern I feel that my ambivalence to pregnancy and motherhood will make me a selfish, dreadful parent.

Thank heavens for trained counsellors
And don't get me started on my inability to travel to far-flung, tropical destinations at a moment's due to fears for Zika virus and the fact that I can't fly internationally after 32 weeks. Having your passport essentially confiscated by someone other than law enforcement authorities is, well... criminal!

This quote in a Business Chicks article today (titled "You Absolutely, Definitely Can't Have it All") resonated with me:

They say that becoming a parent is about sacrifice and compromise – and I guess that’s what I’m getting a lesson in. I interpreted that as sacrificing nights out, sleep, weekly yoga and coffee with girlfriends … what I’m learning is that you have to sacrifice a little piece of yourself and I guess all these tears are me grieving for that part of me. I hate the word juggle, but that’s what it is – a constant compromise between family and work depending on which priority is currently on top, and I don’t think that’s ever ideal. I also feel resentment that my husband isn’t going through this; life has just become richer for him. I just need to soak up the tears and get on with it - letting go of that person who got to the office at 7.30am … and that person who watches her baby sleep. I know that I’ll come out the other side, because so many women have gone before me and I feel great comfort in that.


Logically I know that most women get their figures back; your career ambitions don't necessary stall forever; and while you have the opportunity to eat hot chips without reproach for 9 months, you should seize the moment (and add some chocolate sour cake and ice cream for good measure). So of course it's not all bad, and - like everything in life - it is not forever. But when you're in the thick of it and looking down the barrel of another 12 weeks of discomfort, and on top of that the further altered reality of parenting an infant for the next few years, it can be hard to keep that mantra front of mind.

Eventually, it will all fall into place. Or I will run away with the circus.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Chanel Does Cuba

This week, hot on the heels of the Met Gala (and consequently lacking the star power of most Chanel FROWs) Chanel launched its resort collection on the wide, picturesque avenues of Havana. Cuba is currently Flavour of the Month, having recently played host to the Rolling Stones, the Obamas and the first cruise ship full of 700 Americans since economic and diplomatic sanctions between the USA and Cuba - in place since the 1960s - were historically loosened in March this year.

This week, Karl Lagerfeld (without having visited the country previously) released an entire collection based on his perceptions of this time-warped and beautifully ageing country. Models cha-cha'd down the catwalk (Havana's Paseo del Prado flanked by Cuba's notably colourful cars from the 1950s), some smoking cigars and others decked out in Che Guevara-esque black berets.

Cuba is indeed a picturesque spot, and while I think it's great to promote tourism to the area, a small part of me feels a little discomfort between the dichotomy of ultra-luxe Chanel (which most of us in the developed, Western world can't afford) in Cuba, a country where people earn about US$20/month and food remains relatively scarce and subject to rations (for example, ice cream is only available on certain days of the week).

I will attempt to overcome my white, middle class guilt complex though, and go with the flow. Go and visit Cuba! It's a most fabulous country - beautiful, complicated and full of a the vim for life that can only come from a nation of people truly living an island life: unaffected by constant change, glorious concerns generated by the multitude of options that economic and social progression offers, and the pressure that social media and a bombardment of advertising imagery so well-advanced in its psychological manipulations that it can push the buttons of even the most confident of cats. And if you can afford to take your Chanel slip-ons, then best of luck to you - please spend lots of money in this wonderful country.

Cuban drivers catch a glimpse of some of the world they've been missing these last few decades