I once thought no shopping experience could be as bad as the elusive search for a flattering bikini. Then I got pregnant and went to buy maternity wear.
It turns out that going shopping for anything when you're 20kg heavier than you are used to is a nightmare. Of course it doesn't help that your shoes don't fit anymore because your feet are so swollen, you get out of breath after walking up the ramp to the store entrance, you're too tired to carry clothes on your arm while walking around, and you are physically unable to bend down to look at anything that hangs below waist height. Sorry did I say waist? You won't have one of those anymore, so stop thinking about what it used to look like.
So yes, shopping while pregnant was, for me, an experience akin to the highest form of torture. Despite my usually super-organised tendencies, we left some crucial baby shopping until rather late when expecting Milin. I think it's easily done.
We didn't want to rush out too early and buy nursery furniture, accessories, a buggy, a capsule, and all the other baby-related items I suddenly would not be able to live without. But not going shopping too early was one thing. Refusing to buy anything until I was as big as a house was another, and not my smartest move.
It wasn't quite my fault. By mid-way through my second trimester I had developed a kind of phobia of baby shops. I didn't mind going into them, but once I inside I turned into an overwhelmed, nervous mess. The biggest problem was that I couldn't make decisions. What if I chose the wrong mattress? What if there was an easier to fold up buggy out there? What if I got it all wrong and the baby never forgave me? (It took me a while after Milin was born to figure out that he didn't know, didn't care, and definitely would not hold it against me later in life that I had bought him a high chair based on ease of cleaning over comfort.)
So buying the guff for the small person was hard work, stressful, and something I should have done much earlier. Lesson learnt.
Buying the stuff for myself however, was just as complicated.
I'm now seventeen weeks pregnant the second time round, and in the last week, I have definitely reached the "Oh she's not just put on weight, she's pregnant" stage. I refuse to say my belly has popped out because quite frankly there's no cute little ball that's perched above my hips. It's a far more spread out and less firm mass of maternal flesh that's lying around my middle right now.
In our big move from Wellington to London, I brought only a little maternity wear from the first time round with me. And for some reason, what I did bring was mainly work wear - think pretty floaty shift dresses for the office. But given that my day to day life right now sees me crawling after Milin in the mud at the park and getting splatted with his food at mealtimes, they just aren't working for me.
Maternity wear shopping was as I remembered it. Hellish. But I went armed with the still-too-fresh memories from last time, and the promise to myself that I would not take a leaf out of Kim Kardashian's book and look for leather trousers and a sheer top with emu feathers to see me into my fifth month. The result, was a slightly less horrifying experience than last time. Here are some tips from my experiences, although I'm not in any way suggesting I'm particularly good at buying clothes for myself while I'm in this strange-shaped body.
1: Don't buy everything online - yet. The problem with maternity wear is that you don't know what size you are and you don't know what you're going to look like in the things you like. Brave the shops, try stuff on, and if it fits, go home and order it online in every colour.
2. Don't go out hungry. Because shopping is exhausting when you're pregnant, and it's much better to focus on the job at hand than spend half your allocated shopping time searching for a pregnancy-friendly meal in delis where the food consists of soft cheese and salads from last week.
3. Don't take the baby - the first one. Shopping for a bump is stressful enough. There's no reason to complicate things by taking a one year old who will get bored in the buggy and smear biscuit crumbs on the top you aren't going to buy.
4. Sometimes it's just worth spending the money. If you're usually a size 10, don't think you'll be able to buy a whole wardrobe of cheap size 14 stuff and wear it through pregnancy. There's a reason maternity wear costs more - it's tailored to work with your pregnant stomach, not stretch around it and ride up over it. This look never, ever works.
5. Don't buy too much. Your body will change in ways you didn't expect. Don't buy seven nursing bras when you are six months preggers and expect them to fit your boobs after a year of breastfeeding. Also those jeans that feel amazing at seven months probably won't do up in a months' time.
6. Comfort. Yes, it's nice to have a couple of nice dresses. But when you're 36 weeks and can't see your toes, you won't care if you have VPL. Get a good pair of jeans, some leggings and yoga pants, and expect to live in them for the last month.
7. Treat yourself. You're doing something amazing and you deserve some comfortable underwear and a couple of outfits that you feel beautiful in.
Those are my tips anyway, if you have some more I'd love to hear about them because I'll no doubt be braving the shops again as I grow. And as well as advice, what have your experiences of maternity shopping been? I'd love to hear that not everyone hates it as much as me.
Follow Kiran and her little family's adventures in London on twitter @kiranchug
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