September 24, 2012
Professorial Pregnancy part 2
I've tried to approach my pregnancy wardrobe with practicality and caution. It makes little sense to invest in a massive amount of money into attractive and yet temporary clothes. But logistically and as a person who works outside of the home, I need clothes that fit, that are comfortable, and that allow me to maintain some sense of visual academic professionalism expected by my students, colleagues, and supervisors. Thankfully, an academic professional context is fairly forgiving and I didn't need to acquire a rotation of maternity suits or traditional business clothing.
I knew all along I would need to buy actual maternity clothing. My Pregnant in Anthropologie series has been fun to execute, particularly during the second trimester and a few pieces still work for me at this stage. But my body didn't start off so "small" in the sense that I ever hoped or expected to forgo "maternity" clothes entirely. I admire those who can with the help of their own creativity, but I also think the possibility of pulling off a maternity-clothing-free pregnancy is body specific. And it is out of the control of the individual because every body adapts to pregnancy differently.
Accumulating some attractive pregnancy clothing wasn't something I expected to enjoy, despite my penchant for shopping. I resented the notion of spending on temporary clothing because I believed that "maternity clothes" were automatically not attractive. Thankfully, I was mistaken! I have managed to locate a number of pieces, designers, and boutiques that still feel very much in the style of pre-pregnant me.
Now that I'm in the third trimester, my body speaks of this pregnancy on my behalf. It announces itself to the world before I have a chance to confirm or deny. It needs no hand-on-belly "tell" for people familiar with what I looked like pre-pregnancy to understand what is happening. This nonverbal announcement preceded by that period of "in between," can feel liberating for some. But I never forget that it is also separate and distinct from my own voice. And when you are a part of a smaller campus community, the fear is that your body will become fodder for gossip.
So far I haven't experienced much negativity with regard to my pregnancy but I have at times disliked the lack of control I have over this stage of visual "announcement." My maternity clothing has helped me to continue to feel like myself amid significant physical and emotional changes. So although I might have been able to get by with less by repeating much more, I am glad to have shopped carefully to secure deals on everything I've acquired.
To clarify, I will indeed be repeating my maternity pieces with some frequency, but I also need to admit that I've acquired more maternity clothing than I initially thought I would ever buy. This is due in part to gifts, sales, and stackable promotions at both mass and boutique retailers. But I would be kidding myself to deny that the lack of control I've felt over my body's transitions has influenced my desire to shop, at times for retail therapy purposes. Clothing for me has always been a venue for exerting relative control amid otherwise stressful or challenging circumstances. My pregnancy has been normal and healthy but it is still a relatively new, disorienting, and temporary state. I don't necessarily recommend this method of coping, especially if there's not room in an ever-tightening budget, after all expanding one's family can be quite costly! But my maternity wardrobe budget has remained a lot smaller than what I have spent on myself in previous sale cycles and my partner and I are saving with even more aggression than usual, in anticipation of what's to come.
Although I dedicated discretionary funds toward temporary clothing, I do expect that many of these pieces will transition nicely into postpartum times. A number of the items are nursing-friendly. And at this point (other than a pair of cords) I don't expect I will need much else to get me through the rest of my pregnant experience. I'm glad to have pieces that enable me to still feel like myself while I'm in front of a classroom or attending committee/faculty meetings. Even if I look different from the outside and feel different on the inside, having maternity-friendly clothes with which to assemble professorial outfits permits me to maintain my professional self-esteem. For working moms-to-be, that absolutely is value-adding.
Maternal America scoop neck dress with floral tie waist
Wolford tights (which are surprisingly belly-friendly!)
Giuseppe Zanotti flats (current season version is sans captoe)