Shopping for Maternity Clothes as a Full Figured Woman

In the world of plus sizes, I’m not really that plus sized. I’m currently on the cusp of the higher end non-plus size clothing and the lowest end of the plus sizes. Neither really seem to fit me right, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today!  I wanted to share my adventures on shopping for maternity clothes as a full figured pregnant woman.

While lots of places have super cute maternity clothes, a lot of them don’t take into account that full figured women also get pregnant and want to wear clothes that accentuate their bump as well, not walk around in mumus for nine months. I know I certainly did. I was happy to be pregnant and excited to show off my bump and the baby growing inside of me. And so I went on a search for clothes that did just that.

I ultimately purchased clothes from three places: Motherhood Maternity, JC Penny and Bravado Designs.

I loved the clothes from Motherhood, and they were what I wore throughout my entire pregnancy. I purchased everything in their 1x size, and in hindsight, I bet I could have worn their largest non-plus size, but the plus clothes fit me very well and I was happy with everything that I purchased. I loved the way the pants fit, and the variety of clothes that were available. I even bought a maxidress that I ended up being able to pair up with one of my suit jackets to dress it up for client meetings. I was able to find a local store to try the clothes on, most importantly the pants! But I also purchased items online throughout my pregnancy. The only complaint that I had was that I apparently wasn’t as busty as many women, because I didn’t fill out some of the tops as well as I’d have liked.

I did need some nicer clothes for work, and while I was able to find some at Motherhood, I actually found that JC Penny had a good selection of dress clothes appropriate for work that worked out well for me. They were not quite as nice quality as the clothes from Motherhood, but they were still nice clothes! They were less expensive, and often on sale, which was nice. I definitely liked the Motherhood clothing better, but a few of the items I bought at JC Penny did become favorites in my maternity wardrobe.

About the end of my first Trimester, I grew out of my bras. When looking for new bras, I wanted something less structured (i.e. without an underwire) for comfort, but that still provided support. I also was getting chaffed nipples (solved with applying lanolin after my shower every morning and wearing a softer bra), so I wanted something softer and cotton. I went to the mom and baby center at the hospital to be fitted for some nursing bras – even though they recommend waiting for your milk to come in before purchasing very many. I found some fantastic Bravado Designs bras, the Body Silk Seamless Bra, that were fantastic. They were soft, comfortable and stretchy so that they grew with me. Additionally, I could still use them after the baby was born. I purchased them in the XL size, and I have three of them that I still use today.

Speaking of Bravado Designs, and somewhat not related, their nursing tanks are FABULOUS! I wore them the entire three months of my maternity leave, and they are still part of my “weekend uniform”. I cannot recommend them enough. They are absolutely worth the money.

On the topic of undergarments, I never did find any “maternity” underwear that I liked. I bought some from Motherhood in two different styles, but I hated them. Several ladies suggested trying some Belevation panties, but I simply couldn’t justify the cost (maybe I should have, I might have loved them!). I ended up just buying a larger size of some Hanes granny panties that were super soft and comfortable and worked through the end of my pregnancy without problem.

I also just used my regular yoga pants and a pair of sweatpants that were a little large on me for working out and lounging around the house. Towards the end of my pregnancy they started to feel a little more snug, but never to the point they were uncomfortable to wear. I found that my regular t-shirts worked fine as loungewear early in my pregnancy, but were woefully short by my third trimester.

All in all, the maternity clothes I purchased were fairly expensive relative to the short period of time that you wear them, and you could probably find some cheaper if you looked, but after trying so hard to get pregnant I spoiled myself and I don’t have a single regret about it. I didn’t have any problems finding things to fit me, you just had to shop around to find what you wanted.

A Quick Update from a Slightly Less Overwhelmed New Mom

So, I’m trying to get back to this blog in a more regular fashion. Mostly I really miss having a venue to brain dump and work through my thoughts, feelings and emotions. And as it turns out I have A LOT of those in my current post-partum state. I emerged from the “fourth trimester” two months ago, but just now finally feel like my feet might, in fact, be under me. As I opened up the blog, I found seveal draft posts that are almost a full year old. Oy vey! I had a great debabte about whether or not to just delete them, but decided to go ahead an finish them out. Partly because they will be easy to write, and a good way to ease myself back into the blog without becoming a blubbering mess as I write the posts I’m finally ready to share about post partum, depression and the struggles of motherhood that no one really talks about.
As such, the next few posts that you see pop up may seem like dated topics in relation to where I am at with my journey into motherhood, and that is because they are! But hopefully they will help me get back into a more regular groove and talk about more current events that I’m dealing with and would like to share. I make no promises about how regular my posts will arrive, but I did promise myself that I would get back to blogging because it’s healthy for me. So hopefully that means there will be more regular activity here in the coming weeks!

My Birth Story

This story should probably start a couple of months before Kerrigan’s birth – mostly because I’m behind on posting here (and there is actually a draft in my folder on this period of time…but it’s not finished yet!). So, let’s go back in time a little bit to my pre-natal appointment at 33 weeks.

I went into this appointment seeing one of the midwives in my OB’s practice because he was not available that day (another story for another time). It was my first appointment with someone other than my OB. During this appointment they did the normal things: checked my urine, listened for a heartbeat, checked my fundal height, etc. Up until this point I had been measuring normal and there was nothing that raised any concerns. I’d been discharged from the MFM after our Fetal Echocardiogram and told that unless my OB wanted me to have additional testing/monitoring I didn’t need to return.

The day following my appointment with the midwife, my OBs nurse called me. My fundal height was suddenly measuring two weeks ahead. They wanted me to go in and have a growth scan to see what was going on with the baby, amniotic fluid, etc. So off I went, back to the MFM for some additional testing. The ultrasound revealed that the baby was measuring 36-37 weeks. The MFM recommended that I do weekly monitoring starting at 35 weeks – this included weekly Non-Stress Tests and Biometric Profiles. It was also recommended that I have another growth scan at the end of my pregnancy to see where things stood.

Fast forward to week 39. The Monday before my due date we had that second growth scan and it estimated the baby at 9 pounds 15 ounces in size. The scan was done at 8:30 in the morning. The MFM had said I was right on the cusp of where they’d recommend a c-section, but since I had a frame that looked like it could support birthing a larger baby, I might still be a candidate for a vaginal birth.

At 11:00 the nurse from my OB’s office called. The doctor wanted me to come in today if I was available to discuss the results of the growth scan.  I called Robert at work and we both headed back out to see the doctor.

After meeting with the doctor, we decided that we would give the baby until her due date to go into labor and try to deliver her on her own, but if she didn’t make it by her date we would have a c-section given her size and not being a great candidate for induction. The doctor did warn me that if we did a vaginal birth, it was going to be a challenging endeavor. Once the head was out, it was likely that it would be difficult to deliver the shoulders and given her size they would not want to utilize forceps or suction to assist with the delivery.

I was still game to try.

Throughout the week I tried everything to get her to come before Sunday, the date of our scheduled c-section, but it just wasn’t happening. Saturday night we had everything packed and ready to go for the morning. I got almost no sleep Saturday night and was just a bundle of nerves throughout the night- were we doing the right thing, was the c-section going to hurt, would the baby be okay. I cried, I laughed, I tried to convine myself that everything was going to be just fine and there was a reason that she hadn’t come yet. By the time we were set to leave Sunday I was a tired, exhaussted, nervous mess.

We got to the hospital at 7:00 am, with the surgery scheduled for 9:00 am. We got prepped and my doctor came in to chat with us (admittedly, one of the perks of a scheduled procedure is getting your doctor for the delivery – which I was grateful for!). He asked if we had questions, explained everything that was going to happen, what to expect, and how long it would take. He joked and asked if we wanted to take wagers on her actual size, and gave a lighthearted air to the room, which was much needed.

When he went to scrub up the anesthesiologist came in to chat with us and give us our options, along with the associatd risks, but recommended doing a spinal, which we agreed with. Once he left the nurses finished prepping us and had my husband get changed into his scrubs in preparation to be moved to the OR.

And then, we waited. What seemed like forever! It was nervewracking! There was an emergency c-section and the surgeon got called to assist. Finally around 9:40 they came and wheeled us back.

The Spinal was probably the worst part of the procedure. The doctor and nurses were great, but I don’t think there is a way to make someone shoving a needle into your back a pain free experience. Once that was done, my OB came in and chatted with us a little more while waiting for the spinal to take effect. Once I was fully numb we started the procedure.

As far as the c-section goes, it actually wasn’t as bad as I had worried it would be and it ws a relatively positive birth experience. It took maybe 10 minutes from the time they started until the baby was here. The weirdest part was feeling my stomach muscles jumping as they workedtheir way to my uterus -but my OB let me know to expect it before it started, so I was prepared for it.

Kerrigan came out screaming and didn’t stop until my husband went over to the table with the nurse. As soon as she heard his voice she calmed right down. Even though my OB told us I would get skin to skin time and could hold her while they stitched me up, the nurses brought her to my cheek for maybe 30 seconds and then gave her to my husband and zipped her into his scrubs. That 30 second window was the only glimpse of her that I got until we left surgery. This upset me quite a bit, but my husband was glowing and I tried really hard not to let it show despite  disappointment.

We had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. She weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces and was 22 inches long. She was given a 9/9 APGAR score and the only concerns were that she was breathing quickly and was a little shake-y, but the NICU nurse determined that they weren’t bad enough to require anything but additional monitoring and were likely from the baby still needing to transition from the birth. I was so relieved that she got to stay with us and wasn’t taken off to the NICU.

As they were finishing stitching me up, the doctor talked to me and told me that he was glad we opted for the c-section. After seeing her, he didn’t think I’d have been able to get her shoulders out had we tried a vaginal birth. I was so happy he shared this, and relieved that we’d made the decision for the c-section. Despite originally being a little disappointed about the c-section, I no longer had regrets about giving birth to my baby this way and felt confident the best decision had been made for both Mom and Baby.

I was wheeled into recovery, and finally got to hold my little girl. She was amazing and beautiful; everything and more than I could have imagined or dreamed. After years of struggles and heartbreak, followed by nine stressed filled months, I was finally holding a piece of us and it was nirvana. She latched immediately, with no difficulty, as if she’d been practicing for that moment the entire time in my womb. I don’t really remember much more about the time in recovery – just Kerrigan. She filled every moment and memory I have of that time.

The days following the surgery were challenging. I needed assistance to get out of bed once I could, and it was painful to move at all. As a result, my husband and the nurses had to do almost everything while I laid in bed, and it was frustrating. However, Kerrigan was never more at peace than when she was with me and she spent most of her days (and nights) lying with me. The doctors actually said that this was good, as it helped her to transition and regulate her breathing, ease her shaking and calm her.

In the end, it wasn’t a perfect birth; but the result is so far past perfect that it’s easy to overlook everything else.

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The Stats!
Baby’s Name: Kerrigan Ivy

Date of Birth: May 10, 2015

Original Due Date: May 9, 2015

Weeks Pregnant: 40

Height/Weight of Baby: 9 pounds, 13 ounces. 22 inches long.

Welcome Kerrigan Ivy

Kerrigan Ivy was born on Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 10:22 am via c-section. She was 9 pounds, 13 ounces and 22 inches long! Mom and baby are both healthy and we have all been figuring each other out!


The Best Thing I Bought Early in My Pregnancy

A some point early in my second trimester I cam across an item called a Snoogle. Despite the fact that I really liked the way the word “Snoogle” sounded when I said it, I was curious as to what function it served and if it would be worth the ticket price. So I read the advertisement on the packaging and decided that, yup! I needed a Snoogle. I brought it home, vacated the other pillows on my bed, and discovered my new best friend!

I have absolutely loved this thing. It is comfortable in any position, including using to prop you up on nights your heartburn is so bad you simply can’t sleep lying down (which fortunately for me have been very few). I have zero regrets about this impulse purchase and would hands down recommend it to anyone. In fact, it’s going to be hard going back to my traditional pillows after the baby comes! Well…not too hard, I’m a stomach sleeper by nature and will likely very easily transition back to sleeping that way.

The only thing I would recommend is buying a cover for the Snoogle that has a zipper. This makes it much easier to remove for washing and replace back on the Snoogle after washing. I took one look at the cover on it, and said “forget trying to take that on and off”. I also have zero regrets about that decision! This is the cover that I bought and it has been great.

I should give you one warning about the Snoogle. Pets love it! Every time I get up, our dog ninjas a spot in the Snoogle. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the night and I’m coming back to bed, or once I get out of bed for the morning. I turn around, and she has commandeered herself a prime spot! See the proof below!

Genetic Testing

Wow, so I have at least ten draft topics for ALL OF THE WRITING I wanted to do here, and, well, I guess things just got a little away from me! Since I have some time today, and I’ve been meaning to get back into the swing of things, I thought I’d go ahead with what is likely going to be the longest of my intended posts. And that is a recap and some thoughts on our experiences with genetic testing.

Let’s start at square one. Given our age and the slew of problems that we had trying to get pregnant, my husband was very concerned about a baby with genetic problems. It’s a fair concern, and I think it was fair of him to be honest with himself that he did not think he would be capable of handling the needs of a fully special needs child. It was something that we discussed at length, and together came to the decision that if there was decisive proof that there was a problem with our baby, we would have most likely terminated the pregnancy (I don’t care for a debate or any moral grandstanding on this topic – it’s an individual choice, that must be made by each individual. Period.). So, because of this, we decided from the get go that we weren’t going to mess around with what is often considered standard testing, and would start our genetic testing with a Cell Free Fetal DNA test. Even if that meant we had to pay the cost of the test out of pocket.

The Cell Free DNA Test

Once we met with our OB, we were sent to a genetic counselor to have a discussion on if genetic testing was right for us. It’s probably not for everyone – and some people opt out of any genetic counseling. After sharing our own experience, you may see why. Anyhow, we went in and basically said we didn’t want to do the scanning tests. Just jump to the cell free fetal DNA exam. Our lab performs this under the name “Harmony test”. Other, similar tests, may be called Materniti21 or another one that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Anyhow, what this test does is it is able to pull fetal DNA from the mother’s blood and look for the most common, major chromosomal abnormalities with a very high accuracy rate – with the main ones being Trisomies 21, 13 and 18. They can also test for extra X or Y chromosomes, and find out the gender of the baby. This is generally done between weeks 11 and 13.

Before we had this testing, we met with a genetic counselor. She sat down with us and took a medical history from both sides. Robert’s was very, very quick as he simply told her he was adopted and that was the end of the conversation. My side, however, was a bit more complicated. We went through my family history – and I do have some concerns on my father’s side, being that his family is a carrier for familial adenomatous polyposis. It’s a hereditary form of colon cancer, that if you have it, you have a 50% chance to pass to your children. My grandmother had it, my uncle died from it, and my aunt has less than half her colon. Now, if you don’t have it, you generally aren’t a carrier and can’t pass it on. My father gets tested regularly, and his gastrointerologist  has told him that he is most likely not a carrier.

Well, during all of my medical issues the past few years, one of the things my hematologist (who is also an oncologist) had me do was go meet with my own gastrointerologist and be tested myself. So I did. And I had many tests – for this and other potential GI issues – and I was healthy. No problems. He subsequently told me that I am likely not a carrier, but I should be retested every 5 years, even though I’m younger than the general age you would start routine testing. Cool. No problem.

Well, my our first appointment with the genetic counselor, she pushed REALLY hard for some genetic testing related to this problem. I get it, it’s her job. However, despite advising her my father had been tested and told if he didn’t develop it, his kids were safe AND my own specialist in the area indicating the same thing as well as me not having any issues at my age (issues generally start to appear in your late teens/early twenties), she wanted me to go to my aunt and have her submit a blood sample for genetic testing to compare  against mine. After advising her that wasn’t going to happen – and repeating what both my specialist and my father’s specialist said, she finally conceded that the extra testing was likely unnecessary and that everything was fine.

So after all of that, we were sent with our lab paperwork to have our cell free feta DNA testing done. About a week later we received the results indicating that we were all clear for the major Trisomies and we were having a girl! Great!

The Nuchal Translucency Scan

Around 12 weeks, we were given an ultrasound to measure the Nuchal Translucency on your baby. This is a pocket of fluid on the back of the baby’s neck. This scan is generally used to look for genetic risks, such as Down’s Syndrome, but is very inaccurate alone – and is considered a screening test. It is usually paired with other tests, such as blood work, to come up with a percentile risk for problems. They also can check to make sure all of the body parts seems to be forming correctly, and the intestines are on the inside of the baby, etc. Since we’d already had the cell free fetal DNA testing, we knew that we didn’t have any major issues, but were encouraged to still do the 12 week scan as it can help identify other potential problems, such as heart defects.

Well, it turns out that our NT Scan was very slightly over what would be considered normal in the US. I specify that because in other countries we would have fallen within “normal” ranges. Anyhow, I digress. This lead to a  second meeting with the same genetic counselor – and it did not go well at all. I know that her job is to offer a risk assessment based on the information provided. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this job. And I would say that she hit all of the wrong markers. The conversation went so poorly, that Robert refused to see her again.

Let’s talk about how she started this conversation. It was with telling us that our scan was slightly elevated – and since we’d already ruled out major problems with our lab work, it meant there was a less than 5% chance of a rare condition called Noonan’s Syndrome or a less than 5% chance of having a congenital heart defect. What she didn’t tell us, until we REALLY pushed and at the end of our conversation, was that there was a greater than 97% chance that absolutely everything was okay and we would deliver a perfectly healthy baby. But there was a lot of bullshit that happened in between point A and point B to get there.

One of the things that we were both adamant about was that we didn’t want invasive testing unless it would be conclusive and/or was necessary. Our reasoning for this was simple: there is a risk of miscarriage associated with chronic villus sampling and amniocentesis. For us, this risk had to be weighed against what we would learn from the testing. We were both very clear about this from the start of our session. Well, it turns out that these tests can only pick up Noonan’s Syndrome 65-70% of the time. That is pretty far from being a definitive test. We weren’t interested given the very small likelihood of Noonan’s being an issue (>5%). We communicated this repeatedly, yet the genetic counselor kept pushing it. Robert was livid.

We had a lot of questions regarding Noonan’s – and we are both fairly educated people asking, what I felt, were fairly on point questions. And she flailed about trying to answer them, often times not having an answer. Throughout this process she seemingly referenced a sheet with information on the disorder. Well, it turns out that when we asked for a few minutes to talk things over amongst ourselves and asked for the reference sheet, it was just a prop! It didn’t have the information about Noonan’s and was completely unrelated. I was furious. We were eventually provided with a fact sheet to aid in our discussion- but by that time, I’d already hit the internet and read quite a bit about it. We’d also decided that the risk was so small and the condition was something we thought we could handle, that we wouldn’t terminate even if the test came back positive – and, as we had previously stated, we would not be doing the invasive testing.

The other thing that was suggested was having a fetal echocardiogram done to look for any potential problems with the heart. This is a non-invasive procedure, and helps to identify any potential problems that we would want to be aware of that might affect fetal care, as well as post natal care of the baby. While Robert’s ass was still pretty chapped over the previous conversation, I did think this was an important test to have done, even with such a small chance of a problem, so that we could rule out any potential issues.

Ultimately, Robert went home really pissed at the genetic counselor for how she presented the information. I went home super worried that something was wrong. And we decided to opt out of an amniocentesis but to go forward with the fetal ECG. And this experience is why, I suspect, many people will opt out of genetic testing.

The Anatomy Scan

At 20 weeks we went back in for another detailed ultrasound – this is frequently the only ultrasound a lot of women get throughout their pregnancy. This ultrasound is used to look at make sure that the baby is developing probably. Two arms, two legs, internal organs, etc. This is also the ultrasound where most couples will found out the sex of their baby if they want to know and didn’t have the cell free DNA testing done. Ours was relatively uneventful – other than the fact that our little stinker wouldn’t cooperate and move into a good position to get a profile/facial shot.

We met with the actual MFM doctor this time (much to Robert’s relief), and were told that everything looked great. The Nuchal Fold had normalized, effectively removing the noonan’s risk – and cementing that we made the right decision declining the amnio. They also did not identify any major issues with the heart. She asked us if we would mind pushing the fetal ECG back a couple of weeks to let the heart develop more so that they would have a better look at any minor issues that may exist. All in all, this was a good appointment and we both felt good (and relieved) after we left.

The Fetal Echocardiogram

At week 24 we had our fetal echocardiogram. This is probably the most boring ultrasound! It’s about an hour long, and it all of the heart. The look at all four chambers and they watch how the valves are functioning. They can even observe how the blood flows in and out of the chambers and the valves! Its’s pretty amazing…but also pretty boring. After the ultrasound we met with the same MFM doctor and she told us that everything looked perfect and there were no concerns. We were graduated from there unless my OB felt we needed to go back (I’m technically considered high risk given my age – and probably my autoimmune problems and medication). Spoilers: we are back seeing the MFM (nothing serious!), but that is a post for another day.

Would I Recommend Genetic Testing to Others?

That is actually a very difficult question to answer. For us, we knew from the start that it was something we would be doing given our age and difficulties conceiving. But I also feel that it may not be the right answer for everyone. It really is a very individual decision – and one that each couple needs to make on their own after a lot of thought and discussion. If you know that you wouldn’t terminate for any reason whatsoever, maybe skip it. If you want to know just to be prepared, or because you know that you aren’t capable of the care involved with a special needs baby, then participate. Nobody can make those decisions for you.

The one thing that I will say is that it definitely added a fair amount of stress for a lot of “what ifs”. And the truth of the matter is that much of the genetic testing that you can undergo is simply a series of statistics and guesses – very little of it is absolute. Which is also something that should be taken into account when making the decision on if genetic testing is right for you. I, personally, don’t regret that we participated in it – although I do wish the early meetings with the genetic counselor had gone more smoothly.