About mrswhatsit

A (very) senior graduate student who is trying to just finish up and graduate!

An open letter

Dear Maternity Clothing Designers,

I am writing to ask you to reconsider one of your Summer 2011 design choices.  Please know that I appreciate your attempt to provide a stylish alternative to dowdy and/or childish maternity clothing.  However, I think you may not have thought through one of your designs very well.

I am 4.5 months pregnant and have a bit of a belly.  I am assured that I will continue to gain weight throughout my pregnancy and that the weight will not all be distributed in my belly and bust.  Some of it will undoubtedly settle on my thighs and butt.  Therefore, dear Maternity Clothing Designers, your contribution of itty bitty short shorts with a belly band is most unwelcome.  And given that, in every maternity section I go to, there are racks upon racks full of itty bitty short shorts, my fellow pregnant women agree with me.

Please put some capris and walking shorts on the market.  I think you will find they are better sellers than the itty bitty short shorts.

Sincerely,

Mrs Whatsit, Phd (+1)

Unsolicited, unwanted advice–check!

I have hear from several sources that something happens when you become a parent in which the normal rule of other people minding their own business suddenly gets replaced by other people imposing their advice and words of wisdom on you as though it is their God-given right.  Fortunately, my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law have blessedly refrained from doing so thus far.  However, two nights ago, at knit night, I was whacked upside the head with unsolicited advice in a surprise attack by a friend who is the mother of a 5 month old.  Let me give you some background.

I have thought quite a bit about the sort of childbirth I would like to have.  Primarily the words “calm” and “pain-free” come to mind.  “Natural” makes it on the list, but it’s somewhere after calm and pain-free.  I have pretty much rejected whatever method it is that has you breathing short, gasping breaths (popular on TV shows) because it does not seem to be pain-free.   Ever since I heard of it in college, I have been intrigued by the notion of self-hypnosis as a means of coping with childbirth.  Therefore, I picked up a hypnobirthing book at the bookstore and have read it cover to cover and looked up childbirth and hypnosis on pubmed (not too much data there, unfortunately).  There is a lot that makes a very great deal of sense in the book.  The basic premise is that childbirth does not have to be an extremely painful experience and actually isn’t in many non-Western cultures, and, indeed, a woman’s body is designed for childbirth.  However, the notion of childbirth as a horrible, excruciating experience is so ingrained in our culture that women (whether they realize it or not) experience quite a bit of fear going into childbirth.*  During the fear response, blood is directed away from non-essential organs (such as your uterus) to essential organs.  Therefore, the muscles in your uterus will not be able to function at an optimal level and this causes you pain.  If, however, you can teach yourself to relax and remain calm during the birthing process, your uterine muscles will function better and you will have an easier birthing experience.  The exact mechanism of how this all works is mostly supposition, of course, but it seems as though it does work for quite a few women.  The relaxation necessary is achieved via self-hypnosis, though I suppose how you become relaxed is less important than being relaxed and staying relaxed.

Given that I have anxiety problems to begin with,  I am all for learning techniques that will help me relax.  Husband is on board with this approach as is my psychiatrist.  Not sure how my OB will react, but hopefully, she will be supportive.  My mom and grandma seem a bit dubious that it will work but are mostly supportive.  In fact, my mother primarily experienced pain-free childbirth herself.  She didn’t use any specific technique–she reports that, for whatever reason, she didn’t feel her contractions.  Recordings showed her contractions were off-the-charts, yet she had to have a nurse put her hand on her stomach to tell her when she was experiencing a contraction so that she knew when to push.  She felt very little pain overall except for when my brother was born and the doctor used forceps to yank him out (standard at the Army hospital at that time).  So, there is hope.

So that is my reasoning.  However, upon mentioning that I was going to be going to a hypnobirthing class, my friend, M, began to tell me what a bad idea it was.  Apparently, she had some friends who tried hypnobirthing and it “didn’t work” for them.  What she meant by “tried” is unknown (Did they attend classes or only read the book?  Did they practice the relaxation exercises every day for several weeks as is recommended?) and I don’t know in what way it “didn’t work” (Did they end up using a different technique, getting an epidural, having a C-section, getting induced?).  M said several times that she wasn’t trying to tell me what to do while at the same time telling me what, exactly, she thought I should do.

During the course of our “discussion” it became clear that M did not know much about the hypnobirthing method beyond the fact that it didn’t work for her friends.  Her main point seemed to be that you should learn many techniques because “you never know what is going to work for you,” and, “you don’t know how you’re going to deal with childbirth until you are in it.”  The ideas of using different positions, breathing techniques, visualization, and time distortion were all things she mentioned that were necessary and, although I pointed out that hypnobirthing incorporates all of those things, continued to try to convince me that hypnobirthing was not the way to go.  In the end, I just smiled and nodded because it was clear nothing I said was going to register with her.

I think I would have been somewhat more receptive to what she said if it had been couched in terms of her experience (“this is what worked for me” kinds of phrases) and not absolute statements (“this is how it is,” “this is what will happen to you”).  Or, if she was the mother of, say, five children instead of one.

I’m absolutely willing to accept that hypnobirthing might not work for everybody, that, in fact, it might not work for me.  What I object to is being told that it absolutely won’t work based on the limited experience of one person.

 

*This reminds me a lot of panic attacks.  Panic attacks are triggered by an automatic negative thought which can pass through your brain so quickly, you don’t even notice it.  The panic attack then seemingly comes from out of nowhere.  Cognitive behavioral therapy then often focuses on learning to become aware of these automatic negative thoughts.

In which I’m horribly ill

So, a couple weekends ago, I had just gotten to the point that the worst of the first trimester woes had passed and I was actually feeling pretty good.  I was down to one nap a day instead of three!  I was even ready to tackle cleaning up the apt. (I have church stuff all over creation due to preparing for a special event).  And then, I started sneezing.  I thought it was allergies or something, but I woke up the next day with a cold and felt absolutely miserable.  I barely got out of bed and didn’t even shower, that’s how bad I felt.*  The universe is cruel.

So, I’ve been recuperating this past week and I actually feel quite a bit better, although both my grandmother and mom say I sound awful (thanks, guys).  Basically, I’ve been laying around the apt., drinking OJ and tea with honey and taking lots and lots of naps (and coughing up a lung and using boxes of kleenex).

But, I’m looking forward to getting back to a good version of my old self soon.  So, I’ve informed Husband that, as soon as that happens, we are going into full-fledged baby prep mode.  I have no idea how long I’ll be feeling good and I hear that the third trimester is pretty miserable, so we’re going to make the most of this time while it lasts.  This will involve purging enough books to eliminate one of our bookshelves (out of six) to make room for the desk from the study (aka the baby’s room) in the living room and repainting a dresser** and moving it to the baby’s room.  Also, we need to rent a storage unit and move everything out of the baby’s closet into the unit and a lot of the stuff in our little storage space next to the apt. to make way for baby stuff.  Oh, and move the cat litter from the baby’s room to a hall closet (where we shall also keep the diaper pail; it’ll be the stinky closet).  Then, we’ll have room to move in baby furniture and accoutrements.  It’s a lot of work and it’s not the kind of thing I can do when I’m 8 mos. pregnant, so we’re going to try to get it done now.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that we’ll move (which, due to lease constraints, probably won’t happen until I’m 8 mos. pregnant).  We’re waiting to see if Husband will be getting much of a raise in July.  If he does, we’ll be looking for a place that’s slightly larger and, more importantly, with a washer and dryer in the apt.  Right now, we have to drive to the laundry facility in our complex and that’s going to suck after the baby gets here.

So, big plans afoot.  Just as soon as I get better (Hello!  Immune System!  Time to get a move on!).

 

*Even during my absolute worst case of depression, when my doctor started suggesting I go to a hospital, I still showered everyday.

**The dresser belonged to my mother when she was a girl and my grandparents let her paint it herself.  It’s really very sweet–white with large, sixties-ish blue flowers–and normally I’d want to keep it the way it is due to it’s family history value.  But, the paint’s peeling in a lot of places and God knows if there’s lead in it, so I’ll be repainting it.

Not smug

So, I’ve been struggling a bit these last few weeks.  I have been tired, run-down, no energy to speak of, irritable, reclusive and increasingly depressed.  I’d like to take this moment to say pregnancy sucks.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy beyond belief that around Thanksgiving, Husband and I will finally, finally have a baby.  But, all the stuff between now and then?  Sucks.  I know my situation could be worse.  I could be having more complications, for instance.  But, dude, this blissed-out feeling earth mother feeling that I’ve heard about?  Not coming my way.

I hear it gets better in the second trimester.  As I am now at the end of the first trimester, I’m wondering when that’s going to happen.  I can’t imagine I’m going to ever get to the earth mother stage, though.  I mean, it’s not like I’m the first woman to ever get pregnant.  Or the first mammal for that matter.  And, I’m only having one (according to the ultrasound, thank God), not carrying around a litter like cats, dogs, and mice do.  Nor do I have to be pregnant for almost two years, unlike elephants (really, really thank God for that one!).  Or have to sit on a nest for days on end like egg-layers do (though that might actually be better if I could get Husband to do it for awhile after he gets home from work).  So I’m not sure what there is to get high and mighty about.  Frankly, at this stage in the game, I’m actually a little irritated that this whole thing is going on inside me where I can’t observe it.  Do other scientists feel that way, too?  I mean, if I had my way, I’d have high-resolution ultrasound every other day so I can see what’s going on.  I had one a few weeks ago and my doctor pointed out the head and limb buds (correct number of everything, fortunately, no homeotic mutations visible), but I’m pretty sure things have changed a bit since then.  How many ultrasounds is it safe to have?  Do you suppose there’s a research study I could join that does them weekly?

Anyway, getting back to the point of this post I’ve been feeling like crap.  Yesterday, I went to see my psych doc for our monthly meeting (I’ve been having them pretty much once a month since I started going to see her; I’m guessing it will increase as we get closer to the due date and certainly after the birth).  And, here’s the thing, how do we determine if I’m feeling like crap because I’m pregnant (and am, essentially, a walking bag of hormones) or if I’m feeling like crap because I’m depressed?  Or is it both?  Having never been pregnant before, it’s difficult for me to tell, exactly, but it feels like a mild depression.  So, we eventually decided to up my SSRI and see if that helps.

Another reason this whole thing sucks is that it is spring and normally this is the time of year I feel really good, sometimes almost a little too good.  This really good feeling lasts until about mid-summer when it starts to change into just feeling good by the end of the summer, okay by mid-fall, and bad by winter until around March or so.*  So, I feel a little gypped out of my really good time of year.  In fact, I would have to say that I’ve mostly slept through spring.  And spring is really lovely here in the bay area.  Today, in fact, it’s 85 degrees out.  I’d go for a swim if I wasn’t so damn tired.**

So, that’s what’s going on in Mrs Whatsit-land.  Please tell me you guys are doing better.  I need to hear some good news to balance my mood.

*Given that cycle, it really would have been better for me to get pregnant in the fall and give birth in the spring so that I won’t get hit with the double whammy of postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder.

**I’ve got another rant about maternity clothes, btw.

Migraine + Pregnancy = No fun

What do you do when you have a migraine while pregnant?

Sadly, I suffer from migraines.  Fortunately, they rarely make me significantly nauseous, nor do I get the “aura.”  They are, however, quite painful and since they are usually located behind one of my eyes, that eye waters.  My simple, but effective technique for dealing with them over the years has been to take 800 mg ibuprofen at the first sign of a headache, put a cold pack on my forehead, lay down in a dark, quiet place and attempt to take a nap.  I am sure not every little twinge in my head would have developed into a migraine (some probably would have been your run-of-the mill headaches), but with migraines it is important to head them off as quickly as possible because it is much more difficult to get rid of them after they fully develop.  I understand this is actually true for pain management in general, and though I’ve never heard why, my guess is that those particular receptors take a long time to turn over making them fairly inaccessible to pain medication once the pain starts (though someone should correct me if I’m wrong) (look, science content!).

As you may know, you cannot take ibuprofen (or aspirin, or aleve) when you are pregnant.  So, when I felt a headache developing the other night I was pretty concerned about how I was going to deal with it since, in the past, Tylenol has not touched my migraines.  Nevertheless, I took two Tylenol, put an cold pack on my head, and went to bed.  And, as I feared, I woke up in the middle of the night with a migraine.  Took more Tylenol, put another cold pack on my head, and went back to bed.  And woke up this morning with the migraine still going strong.  So, I took more Tylenol and this time added my secret weapon:  caffeine.

If you look at the back of a bottle of  extra-strength Excedrin, you will notice one of the active ingredients is caffeine.  Caffeine is actually good for relieving migraines (if it is not what causes your migraines in the first place, it can do both).  You may have heard that pregnant women are supposed to stay away from caffeine, but if you do the research, it turns out that you can have up to 200 mg caffeine a day which is about the amount in one 12 oz cup of coffee or several 8 oz cups of black tea (depending on how strong you brew your tea).*  Of course, green and white tea have even less caffeine so you can have a whole teapot of one of those, if you want.

At any rate, I took more Tylenol, had a cup of strongly brewed tea (I hate coffee), laid back down, et voila!  Migraine gone.  For some people, I know, it would not be so easy.  These unfortunate people likely take something quite a bit stronger than ibuprofen for their migraines and fortunately, some of those can be used during pregnancy.  However, I think drinking some caffeine could be something to try if you are stuck with only Tylenol to soothe your pain.

*This is a useful number to have handy in case someone (your mother-in-law, for instance) gets on your case about having a caffeinated beverage.  Not that I would know anything about that.

Things to NOT say to your pregnant wife

Scene:  Bedroom, trying to go to sleep

Me:  I’m really worried about the weight I’m gaining.  I’m worried I won’t be able to get rid of it all after the baby arrives.

Husband:  Well, maybe you should count calories more.

Me:  That was not what you were supposed to say.

Husband:  I’m sorry.

Me:  You were supposed to say that of course I will be able to lose the weight and even if I didn’t you would still love me and find me attractive.

Husband:  Of course you will lose the weight and even if you don’t, I’ll still love you and find you attractive.

Me:  Too late.

Husband:  Sorry.

Finis

I am now 9 weeks pregnant and I have already gained 10 pounds.  Despite finding some ridiculous nutritional recommendations online (which wanted you to substantially increase your intake of all food groups yet somehow not add more than 300 calories to your diet), I ended up adding just 1 serving of fruit, 1 serving of veggies, and one serving of dairy a day to my diet.  That really doesn’t seem like enough to have caused me to gain 5 pounds a month.  Not only that, but for awhile I had decreased appetite and a bit of nausea so I wasn’t eating much of anything at all, which you would think would lead to me gaining less weight (I usually lose weight when I’m sick).

Now, it turns out I have some mega uterine fibroids that have probably grown as a result of the influx of large amounts of hormones.  So maybe that accounts for some of the weight (for real, they’re huge*).  I mentioned this to my mother and her response was, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.”  Turns out she gained weight right away whenever she was pregnant.  She said it was like her metabolism just stopped, it didn’t matter what she did, she gained weight.  She gained an average of around 50 pounds each time (she was fortunately only 109 lbs starting out).  And she did lose it all every time.  Unfortunately, she had a serious eating disorder at the time, so there’s no telling what would have happened if she had actually, I don’t know, ate after she delivered her babies (or didn’t take massive amounts of laxatives).  Since I am not keen on developing an eating disorder (I have enough mental health problems, thank you very much), it looks like I’ll have to take the traditional route of diet and exercise.

In addition to causing me some concern about my post-pregnancy self-image, the added weight has caused another problem.  Since the extra pounds all collected on my belly (in contrast to where I normally gain weight which is on my butt and thighs), I am actually starting to look pregnant a lot sooner than I expected.  So much so that I’m starting to wonder how much longer I can keep it a secret.  Originally, we had planned to tell only a handful of people until I was in the 2nd trimester when the risk of miscarriage decreases considerably.  I’ve been trying to disguise my growing belly with baggy clothes, but that really can only take you so far.  I have a feeling it won’t be long before somebody’s curiosity overcomes their politeness and they ask me about it.  In fact, somebody at church has already asked A who replied that she didn’t know and they should ask me (which was a total lie, she did know; that’s an awkward situation to be in, lying to people at church, poor A will have to go to confession about it for sure).  At this point, I almost wish it was still a taboo subject, that way I could avoid having to answer the questions of nosy acquaintances, potentially letting them in on the secret before the rest of my family even knows.

So, we’re thinking of telling our families at the end of next week.  That’ll be 10 weeks.  That’s close enough to second trimester, right?  And, I’ve already had an ultrasound and little Emmy (short for embryo) has a heartbeat, so we’re probably in the clear.  Right?

Right?

*One is 6.3 x 7.2 x 6 cm and another is 3.7 x 3.4 x 2.7 cm.  My little embryo, in contrast, is about an inch long.  My ob does not seem terribly concerned about the fibroids, though, so I’m trying not to worry about them.

If the government shuts down

Husband works for a company that contracts with NASA.  His office is in a NASA research center.  If the government shuts down, he can telecommute for awhile.  If the government shuts down for an extended period of time, he will not be able to telecommute for the entire time and will have to start taking vacation time.  If the government shuts down for a really long time, he will run out of vacation time and he will not be paid. Not, “he’ll still be paid but he won’t get a paycheck until the government starts up again.”  He. Will. Not. Be. Paid.  And seeing as how I’m currently unemployed, we will have no income.

A cut in income and no vacation time has pretty big meaning to us right now.  My brother is getting married in June in Iowa.  Will we be able to afford to go?  Or rather, will we be able to afford for me to go because Husband will have to stay home due to having no vacation time.  And then, there’s the baby.  Obviously, a decrease in income is not good when there is a baby on the way.  But, the loss of vacation time is also not good.  Husband’s company does not offer paid paternity leave.  He can use sick time for that (and pray he doesn’t get sick until he accrues more sick time) and he was going to do that, but he was also planning on using vacation time.  He’s been trying to save as much vacation time as possible in preparation for this, but obviously, it is more important to us for him to receive a paycheck right now so he will take vacation time now if he has to.

I don’t agree with many of the budget cuts the Republicans want.  But, at this point, I don’t give a damn.  Just pass the budget already.

Women who “don’t work” run the world

This morning, I got an email from a fellow church volunteer who abruptly said she needed something large, complicated and wooden that I had gotten roped into making by this Sunday.  No deadline had been mentioned when I got roped into making this piece.  In order to have the piece ready given the time constraints and weather constraints, I was going to have to forgo most of the plans I had for the rest of the week (including little things like menu planning and buying groceries) and do some of the work indoors (sawdust and polyurethane, great!).

As I stood in the shower, I thought about making this thing and trying to get the other stuff in my life done (realizing that buying groceries was actually not optional), I got totally overwhelmed and started to cry.  Which is when I decided I’d had enough.  I was done.  I was not making the Large, Complicated and Wooden Thing.  If she wanted it, she could make it her own damn self.  I sent an email to that effect (only slightly more polite) and then I called A the Ubermom.

A was on her way to French class with her two children, but she had a couple of minutes to talk.  She is also a volunteer at the church and, well, we were both feeling a little bit fed up with the status quo (actually, there’s quite a bit more backstory to this situation, but it’s not really important for the point I’m trying to make).  She reassured me that it was okay that I was not making the LCWT.  And then she said, “You’re doing enough, you’ve got a lot going on and you’re a very busy person.”  And A is right, I actually am a very busy person.  I agreed with her and then said, “Which is really funny because I don’t work.”  And A said:

“I have come to realize that Women Who Don’t Work run the world.  If all of us women who ‘don’t work’ were to stop doing everything it is that we do, schools, libraries, churches, and most non-profit agencies would come to a screeching halt.  And that’s not even counting housework and kids.”

Guys, I am perfectly willing to believe that there are women out there who do not bring in a paycheck, do not have children to take care of, do not have to take care of their houses and spend their entire days and nights doing nothing but leisure activities.  It’s just that I don’t know any of them.  All of the women I know who do not bring in a paycheck are involved in umpteen volunteer activities in addition to doing the lion’s share of taking care of the children and of the housework.  And, they grow their own vegetables.  And, take classes online or at community colleges.

I may not have children (yet), but I am just as busy with volunteer work, housework, growing our own vegetables, and taking classes.  In fact, I’ve had to cut back recently due to my need to sleep 16 hours a day (does that go away?  Please say yes).  Because I’ve been so tired, Husband has been doing quite a bit of the laundry and cooking and cleaning, too (he always does the dishes because I Don’t Do Dishes).*  This busyness was unexpected to me.  I really had thought there would be plenty of time to read  4 or 5 books a week and churn out a handknit sweater once a month or so (I didn’t think that’s what stay-at-home-moms did, I know taking care of children is a lot of work!).

So, be nice to Women Who Don’t Work.  Your favorite school/library/church/charity might fall apart without them.

 

*These were things that we had previously shared the workload for but that I taken over because I thought it was only fair since he is at work all day.  The reasoning went something like this:  he’s at work all day for which he earns a pay check that contributes to our life together, so I should do housework during the day as my share of contributing to our life together and then we will both be free at night and on the weekends to do stuff together.  This will change a bit when the baby arrives because I anticipate being about as busy with the baby during the day as he is with his job during the day.

PSA: Go to a bra shop. For real.

Since becoming pregnant, there have been some changes with my body.  The worst one, as far as I’m concerned, is that my breasts have basically been hurting continuously, day and night, for the last 5 weeks.  It’s not excruciating, but it’s always there.  It’s a bit like having a minor headache for 5 weeks straight.  It’s not the end of the world, but it’s unpleasant and, frankly, it’s not helping my mood any.

Well, last night, I decided I had had enough.  I looked at Husband (who has been hearing me say that my breasts hurt every day for the last 5 weeks) and said, “I can’t take it anymore.  I’m going to a bra shop.  It will be crazy expensive.  I don’t give a damn.  This. Has. To. STOP!”  He (very wisely) answered, “Okay, that sounds like a good idea.”

I had heard very positive things about bra shops in general from various female friends, who are, shall we say, a little on the busty side.  I had heard words like, “the most comfortable bra I’ve ever worn,” “life-changing,” and, “it made me look 10 pounds thinner.”  Basically, women who had been to bra shops could not say enough positive things about them.

My friends, it is all true.

This morning I went to a shop recommended by a friend.  I went into the store and told the woman working there, “My breasts hurt.  They need more support.  I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”  She looked slightly taken aback, but assured me she could help.  I explained that I am 7 weeks pregnant, and she put me in a lovely fitting room, measured around my ribcage, showed me why my current bra was not going to give me what I needed explained what she thought I did need, and brought me bras to try on.  It was beautiful.

As soon as I put the first one on, I knew I was hooked (no pun intended).  It was the most comfortable bra I had ever worn, it was life-changing, and it did make me look 10 pounds thinner (for real, guys).  And my breasts no longer hurt.  The salesperson (and I hesitate to call her that, because I really feel she deserves a more grandiose title like, “Bra-fitting Goddess”) explained that she was bringing me bras that were particularly stretchy in certain regions because my breasts were going to continue to grow (Oy!  Say it ain’t so!) and with pregnancy, I would likely put on weight in my ribcage.  So, she wanted me to have a bra I could grow in a little bit, while still providing me with the support I need.  She also said she was bringing me a very popular, basic bra that was in the low end of their price range.  “I can bring you $200 bras if you’d like, but since you will probably need a larger bra in a couple of months, I thought you might not like to spend that much.”  Indeed.  I remarked that I would likely need these bras again when my breasts decrease back to normal, they will go back to normal, right?  “Don’t count on it,”  she said.  Double OY!

With each bra, she evaluated the fit and brought me another size if it didn’t fit the way she thought it should.  I could tell which ones fit properly and which ones didn’t simply by how comfortable they were.  Additionally, she said women who get diagnosed with “blockages” (whether in milk ducts or lymph ducts was unclear) often have ill-fitting underwire bras that are putting too much pressure in one spot of the breast tissue.  I’m not sure what the data is for that, but I can see how it could be true, given where the underwire on my old bra was ending up under my arm.   She showed me where the underwire should end up under my arm for a good fit.  She mentioned breast-feeding that women who breast-feed unevenly often end up with uneven breasts, so beware!

In the end, I bought two bras which cost about $140 in total.  This was a whole lot cheaper that I thought it was going to be (I was prepared to spend up to $150 per bra if necessary, that’s how much distress I was in!) and, actually, not much more than I had spent on two of my ill-fitting bras.  I did try on one very pretty (and sexy) black bra with stretch lace at the top that would also allow me to grow that was a little over $100, but I decided to save it for next time (because I’m absolutely sure there is going to be a next time, and probably in about a couple of months).  She didn’t pressure me to buy the more expensive bra, she just asked if I wanted her to write down the brand, model, and size in case I wanted to come back for it.  She didn’t even mention buying a matching panty (which I’m sure they had).  Her goal was to get me in a well-fitting bra that I liked, not to get me to spend as much as possible in the store.

I wore one of the new bras out of the store.  I really couldn’t bear putting the old one on again.

To give you an idea of what kind of change we are talking about here, I walked in wearing a 36D (the size recommended to me by the saleswoman at Victoria’s Secret) and walked out wearing a 38E.  The 36F was a little too snug around the ribcage even though the cup size was right.  I was a little distressed about the cup size.  The Bra-Fitting Goddess tried to soothe me, “Don’t worry about it, it’s just a letter.”  Yes, but it’s a letter that indicates I will probably always need to buy the more expensive bras (although, as I said, the two I got were not that much more expensive than others I owned).

Why did I wear such ill-fitting bras for so long?  Well, one reason was that I had balked at the idea of going to a bra shop because I thought all of the bras would be at least $100 or more and I didn’t want to spend that much on a bra.  This was somewhat faulty thinking, though, considering how much I wear each bra (I usually only have two or three at a time and therefore wear each one about 3 days a week).  Really, given how much time I spend in each bra and how important I feel it is to be comfortable, a very good, expensive bra makes a lot of sense and is a smart investment.  I had come to this conclusion about my eyeglasses a few years ago (I wear a pair of glasses 16 hours a day, every day for two or three years, so it’s worth it to me to buy a nice pair that I really like), but really hadn’t put the same kind of thought into undergarments.

The other reason, I think, is that I was “comfortable enough.”  I didn’t feel like I was falling out of my bra because it looked pretty good from the front and I didn’t have the double-boob thing going on.  The band didn’t feel “too” tight.  (And, it wasn’t possible to try on a larger cup size in the places I typically shopped for bras.)  There’s a lot of, “just suck it up and deal,” advice given to women in just about every area of life.  We are meant to think that some things are slightly uncomfortable and that’s just the way it is.   I hated wearing a training bra before I really had breasts–I thought they were uncomfortable–so when I truly had to wear a bra (because being without one was more uncomfortable than wearing one), I didn’t necessarily think that it should be comfortable.  On top of that, my mother is an A-B cup and so didn’t have the same experience I have had, dealing with much larger breasts, so she didn’t teach me the importance of a well-fitting bra (not that A-B cup ladies don’t deserve to have well-fitting bras, they absolutely do, but it’s my impression they have less to worry about in terms of support, weight, and pain–please correct me if I’m wrong).  So, I was pretty much screwed from the beginning.

The key difference, I think, in shopping at a proper bra store versus shopping at a department store, or even shopping at Victoria’s Secret, is that the saleswomen in a bra store are professionals.  They really know what they are doing and this doesn’t seem to be a part-time or temporary job for them (the woman who helped me had been mentioned in yelp reviews going back at least three years).  I actually worked at a Victoria’s Secret right out of college, before I found a research tech job, and none of us were given any training in how to properly evaluate bra fit.  We only got a very brief talk about how to measure someone for a bra.  And we always, always had to suggest the matching panty.  All of the advice we were given was about how to increase a sale.*

Given my experience at this store,  how comfortable I have felt since putting on this bra and how much better I look, I will definitely be going back to this bra store in the future and if I move elsewhere, I will track down a bra store there.  I may be preaching to the choir, here, but if you’ve never been to a proper bra store (and you will know right away if you’ve found one by how knowledgeable the saleswoman is) I really very strongly urge you to go hunt one down.**  It might not be as expensive as you think and you have nothing to lose.

 

*Even though we were not paid on commission they did keep track of each saleswoman’s sales and if our sales were routinely low, we had to have a talk with a manager.  This is why it is important to remember the name of the person helping you in clothing stores and to mention it at the counter when you go to purchase something.  They key in a code before scanning in the merchandise which allows the computer to keep track of each person’s sales.

**Bra stores are a bit of dying breed, though.  If you don’t live in a major metropolitan, it may be difficult to find one.  But it will be worth your time.

An unfortunate series of events

So, last Sat. night, Husband and I were in a fender-bender.  We were on our way to a tapas restaurant in a nearby town, on unfamiliar streets, after dark, in the rain.  Husband was driving.  Well, we approached an intersection, and the left turn signal was red.  We were not turning left, but Husband was stressed out about driving in unfamiliar territory, in the dark, in the pouring rain and he started slowing down to stop.  Just as I was about to say, “What are you doing, the light is green!” we were hit from behind.  It was surprisingly loud.  Fortunately, were weren’t at a complete stop so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  Airbags were not deployed.

However, I did not handle it well.

See, for the last week, my thoughts have run something like this:

Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, “What?  Sure, let’s have chicken tonight, “ baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, “Huh?  Ummm…no, I haven’t seen your phone,” baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby.

If Husband had said to me, “Honey, I think we should raise chickens on our back patio.”  I probably would have responded something like, “Hmmm?  Oh.  Yes, fresh eggs would be nice,” and go on thinking baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby.

Which is why, when Husband came back to the car looking for a pen after talking with the other driver, and looked at me and said, “Honey, it’s okay,” I shrieked, “IT IS NOT OKAY, WHAT ABOUT THE BABY?!?!?!”

Well.  This was not the best possible response.  Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty stressed out for awhile now, and the last week had been the worst.  First and foremost, I’m desperately worried about a miscarriage.  Yes, great, I got pregnant, but now I have to stay pregnant which is not as easy as it sounds and at this stage in the game, I really have no control over it.  Then, there are all of these things that are related to the baby.  For instance, we recently got a cat who is less than a year old and he has a tendency to bite and I really need that issue resolved before there’s a baby in the apt.  And, the other day, I suddenly realized that if I wanted to knit Christmas presents I should do that now because there will be very little chance to do that after the baby comes (who would be due to arrive mid- to late Nov.).  Then, I chastised myself for thinking about Christmas which is months and months away, let’s stick to getting through the next two months, okay?  And, I’ve been reading up on nutritional requirements during pregnancy (and I have a lot to say about that) and wondering how I could possibly fulfill all of them.  Additionally, I volunteered to cook a meal for a friend who just had twins (!) and I had to find a ride to get the food there because Husband had a car and then I visited her and she’s having trouble breastfeeding but not looking into all available resources about it, which threw me into a tizzy about women and not asking for help and being socially conditioned to suck it up and deal.  Which led me into a tizzy about women’s health.  And what about cloth diapers?  They’re better for the environment and there’s a diaper service nearby, but Husband looks at me like I’m whacked every time I mention it.  Wait, no, that’s months away, too, focus on the present!  Also, I’ve been taking this class that required me to spend time volunteering in an elementary school classroom which was in a Title I school and, my friends, the situation there is absolutely appalling and it is a poster child for everything that is bad and evil about standardized testing (more on that at another date).

Frankly, I was so scatterbrained from everything that was going on (and really tired on top of it) that it could very easily have been me who got the lights confused.  Just the other day, I was at the grocery store before picking up Husband at work.  I unloaded the groceries, got in the car, started it, put it in reverse, and then noticed a shopping cart directly behind the car.  And I thought, “Dammit, what idiot left a shopping cart directly behind my car?  People really inconsiderate jerks these days!”  And then I realized that I was the one who had left the cart back there.

So, with one thing and another, I was A Woman On the Edge.  And despite normally being perfectly level-headed and calm in small emergencies like a fender-bender (at least until I get home and then I fall apart) I completely lost my shit and sobbed after handing my purse to Husband (“Here, you look for the pen!”) and while husband was talking to the other driver.  Fortunately, I was able to pull myself together right before Husband got back into the car, at least enough to stop crying and say, “I want to go home.”

Unfortunately, Husband did not handle the situation well, either.  In the immediate aftermath of the accident, he hadn’t thought about the baby and when I brought it up it rattled him.  Therefore, he got the phone number of the guy who hit us and that is all.  No name, no insurance information.  It was all his fault, Husband  thought, why get the other guy’s info?  Never mind that we were rear-ended after slowing down and therefore, the driver behind us either wasn’t paying attention or following too closely.  I assured him did not think it was his fault, even if he was confused about the lights and I didn’t blame him at all, but the damage had already been done.

So.  We got home, ordered take-out, called the insurance, and I had a glass of wine.  Oh yes I did.  One glass of wine was not going to hurt the baby and I needed something to settle my nerves.  When Husband left to pick up the food, I called my friend, A, who I teach Sunday school with, told her what had happened, told her I was having a glass of wine (“Good,” she said*), and informed her I wouldn’t be coming to teach in the morning or to church, but I might be up for some light knitting in the afternoon if she wanted to do that.  But, I would likely need a ride.

The car appears to be fine, but appearances can be deceiving.  I was once in an accident while driving my friend’s, R’s, car and in that case, I rear-ended the person in front of me.  The was no apparent damage to the car I hit, and there was only a small crack in the bumper cover of R’s car.  However, when R took the car in for a new bumper cover, it turned out that the bumper underneath was totaled and had to be replaced.  So, despite the fact that the car looks fine, I want to take it in to a mechanic to make sure before we drive it very much, if at all.

In terms of the pregnancy, everything seems to be okay so far.  But, I realized last night that I am simply doing way too much right now and I need to cut down my activities considerably, sit back, take a deep breath, and relax.

It’s going to be a very long 9 months.

*A is is, well, kind of an ubermom as I like to call them.  There are several in my knitting group, which is where I met A.  She is also a Le Leche League leader and has been for the last five years.