So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I went to see my parents for Thanksgiving. And, as you guess, I went maternity shopping with my mom on the Don’t Buy Berkeley Day.
Matrons at work advised me to save on maternity clothes and invest in breastfeeding-friendly outfits instead. It all made sense because, they said, I will only really need maternity the last three months, but breastfeeding will last longer. So they suggested wearing something lose 2nd trimester. Unfortunately, I don’t have very many lose-fitting outfits. I have some tops that can stretch a bit, but I still cherish some hope of wearing them again someday, so I don’t want to stretch them out. Perhaps I am that sucker who just wants to buy maternity.
For the most parts maternity clothes are not very imaginative. There are some gems, of course, but look at the price tag! As I found out earlier this year, an event called a wedding is more expensive than any other celebration of similar size and grandeur. Apparently, the same goes for maternity. A dress called maternity has a maternity premium attached to it. The biggest scam I discovered so far, though, is diaper bags. I think I’m going to go to Marshalls’s and buy myself a large bag with many pockets and call it a diaper bag.
When I was in my first trimester, I went to Gap Maternity. I had to search one out, btw, b/c, as it turns out, there is no maternity departments in most Gap stores. It was early fall, and I decided to think a half a year ahead, when my baby will be due and the weather will be hot. So I hit the sales rack and bought a $5 black tank top. The sales girl asked me if I want it gift-wrapped.
Not much in the way of maternity clothing appears to be available in large urban centers. Much is to be found on the internet, though. I gather, the retailers decided that maternity clothes are something that women will buy when they have to, not on impulse, so there is no point in merchandising the product on sales floor. But, I’m the kind of girl (ahem!) woman who likes to try on the clothes I’m about to buy.
I checked out non-maternity loose waist styles in various trendy stores. I was a bit uncertain about them because a) they look too hippy, and b) I don’t know where my waist and breast are going to be a half a year from now, so the non-stretchy styles don’t work. Nevertheless, I purchased a soft and stretchy cotton top on sale at Urban Outfitters for under $15. It’s several sizes larger then I am right now, so it will probably work out at the end of pregnancy/beginning of breastfeeding. I also got a really cool kimono shrug and a lose-fitting top at Anthropologie when they had the 40% off everything on sale sale. Both items look like they will allow me to bare my breasts easily and discreetly in order to nourish my newborn.
Finally this Friday morning my mom and me found ourselves at Target, where maternity items are the cheapest. I saw some of their styles online, and wanted to check out the fabric quality and the fit. We found one very nice short-sleeve shirt dress that can also work for breastfeeding, a descent gray sweater that requires a turtleneck and a ¾ sleeve top, which will come handy in the last trimester. Of course, most of the items advertised online are nowhere to be found in the downtown Sac store.
Our next stop – downtown Sac shopping center. I was convinced that they have A Pea in the Pod there, but the bastards closed down the store several months ago. Not knowing where else to go, we wandered into Macy’s. And – lo and behold! – There is a maternity section there. It was much more substantial than the one at Target, and more expensive as well. Nevertheless we found a bunch of sales items that were almost reasonable. I found a cute skirt that I wouldn’t mind having in my closet, pregnancy or no pregnancy. We bought two more sweaters, one — very basic black, and another –Christmas chic kimono – that would be fun to wear when we go visit my husband’s parents this December. I got sucked into buying very stylish and a deeply discounted bolero that’s really cool, but not specific for pregnant women. The most expensive item was a $48 turtleneck, which was not discounted, but since it will be very easy to mix into an outfit, I went ahead and bought it anyways.
All in all we spent about $250, and I’m not even half-done. Not to mention that I still need some lingerie and yoga clothes.
15 years ago I collected a bunch of family pictures, mostly from my dad’s side, and put them together in an album. I found the album in my mom’s home and showed it to my husband this weekend. In it was a couple of pictures of little B. Rex that made me fear for the future of my baby. Boy was I ugly! There I was, as a little 3-year-old whose eyebrows had not even a hint of an arch, or a future arch, chinless, and with the fattest cheeks. I never had much baby fat on me, but, apparently, when I did, all of it went into my cheeks. A hampster of sorts.
Then I remembered the stories of myself as a particularly grotesque newborn. Apparently, I came out with a huge unibrow that stuck out horizontally, and a hairy forehead. There was a period – from about 6 month to a year when I was, in fact, cute. But that’s because there is a law that says that every infant 6 months to a year has to be cute. My mother confirmed that I was not a particularly attractive baby. My sister, on the other hand, was a cutie-pie right from the start with her milky white skin, large brown eyes and curly head full of hair. Compare to her I was rather plain. Thank you mom! Now that I’m all grown up and mature, I can handle this kind of information.
My dear husband reassured me. Not to worry, he says, he was a cute baby and a cute kid.
I just can’t help but think of my mother, my grandmother and my great grandmother and how totally different they are from this woman, and how much better. Of course, they also had better husbands.
When I went home for Thanksgiving my mother showed me a September 1941 letter that my father’s dad wrote to his wife, my grandmother. At the time the Great Patriotic War was only a couple months old and my grandmother evacuated to Russia’s north, the town of Omsk, with their two sons. She struggled to find a job and feed them. Judging from the content of the letter, my grandfather stayed behind to work in some sort of a field hospital. He started out together with his friends, but the friends were leaving on orders one by one. He expected to be relocated somewhere as well. At the time my grandfather was already in his 40s, mature and experienced enough to have no illusions about the nature of the Soviet regime. And yet he answered to call of duty and kept his spirits high, working for the victory against the Nazi Germany. He had many warm and tender things to say his straggling wife and young children.
Then there are my maternal grandmother and great-grandmother. They also lived through WW2. And the Civil War, and two Russian revolutions. My grandmother birthed my mom in the middle of WW2, as a matter of fact. They raised both my mom and her brother in post-war poverty. My grandmother lost her prestigious university lab position in the 50s because she was Jewish. My mother’s brother was denied university admission for the same reason. He alter was denied his right to immigrate.
And yet despite all of this, my grannies lived long and fulfilling lives. They were full of life, warmth and wisdom. They were kind and just. How lucky we are in the West to have women like that in our families! We are also incredibly lucky to have their stories to tell to our children.
Tomorrow I am going to indulge in turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and whatever else my family will cook for me. (G-d, I love being pregnant!)
The day after my mom is taking me to buy some pregnancy clothes.
The rumor has it, Friday after Thanksgiving is “National” Buy Nothing Day, at Berkeley at least. I doubt that November 24 is “National” Buy Nothing Day in Sacramento where I am planning my shopping spree. November 24 is believed to be the busiest shopping day of the year in this country. So refusing to shop that day is sort of like refusing to eat on the 4th of July: You don’t partake in the custom because you are better then the community that celebrates the event in question.
Incidentally I did a little research, and, turns out, this now international Buy Nothing Day was started by a Canadian and promoted by a Canadian magazine. Although November 24 is not the busiest shopping day in Canada, those freindly foreigners decided to direct their attention to American shopping patterns. Apparently this event is now being commemorated around the world in honor of American prosperity.
If you, my friends, are conflicted, and you want to shop, but then you want to be a good liberal, I recommend settling on a compromise. Buy Nothing at Berkeley. Why upset the locals?
I put a bunch of child-rearing books on my baby registry recently, and we decided to make room on our shelves. This weekend we picked out about 30 books we have duplicates of and are definitely not going to reread. Many of them we would not recommend to anyone. Among them: Foucalt’sMadness and Civilization, Nabokov’s Ada, Lisa Suckdog’s Rollerdurby, two editions (two too many) of Gunter Grass’s Tin Drum, three lesser books by Bukowski, and a bunch of other crap that proper Communists at your secondhand bookstore should salivate over. Almost all books were in like new condition; many — hardcover.
We went to Waldenbooks by lake Merritt because last time they gave us a pretty good deal. Last time was about a year and a half ago when we bought our house, and had to sell books and clothes to avoid clutter.
We got a good deal because my now husband showed up a while after me, and the book buyer, a balding alterna-commie in his late 30s who clearly didn’t have a woman in his life to tell him how to look appealing, was trying to hit on me. Back then I probably wore a band t-shirt and cat print socks. This time I wore an Anthropologie coat purchased at Jeromy’s for $25 and I had a ring on my finger. Plus, my husband was a bit conspicuous.
None of this probably mattered because we got a different buyer. This balding alterna-commie was in his mid-40s and he looked like he doesn’t have a woman in his life to tell him how to be appealing. I don’t think he liked me for a second. I think he figured me out. He went through my books, although he didn’t bother to get to the very bottom of the crate. He saw P.J. O’Rourke’sPeace Kills, and dropped it like a hot potato. Apparently, Gunter Grass was OK because this balding alterna-commie went patiently through both copies and selected the cleanest. He looked at a hard cover edition of a rather ideological and not particularly interesting book on Oppenheimer and mumbled under his breath: “What, you have it, and you don’t want to keep it?” He would pass on Rollerderby if his female coworker, in her mid-20s and already with a strong and scruffy alterna-commie air about her wouldn’t tell him that she wanted it. All in all he found about 20 books, all in excellent condition, all will be sold for around $10 a piece, and offered me $30 cash.
I should have walked away, but I took the money.
For comparison we next went to Pendragon where we got $5 for 2 books.
Even if books don’t sell for much nowardays (and they probably don’t) that Waldenbooks place seems to be a bit stingy. I can’t help but to think that the buyer didn’t like me. He didn’t like my clean and cute coat, and he didn’t like that P.J. O’Rourke book. So he quoted me the price on the low side.
In any occasion, I am not doing business with that place again. If books are selling that low right now, what’s the point of driving to some overtly political establishment when I can just drop them off at Goodwill? Or offer to friends?
There is one conciliation, though: While I was selling the books my husband managed to do a little rearranging. For some reason Waldenbooks had Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept and The Caged Virgin by Aayan Hirsi Ali’s; they probably couldn’t ignore the books, or the corporate office ordered it, or –whatever. So the lovely employees stuck them up on the bottom shelf. My husband picked them up and moved up to the shelf with the books about the crafty Jews, the top shelf.
The strangest thing about being pregnant is that nothing much is happening. I took EPT. I got queasy. I am going to the doctor once a month. I changed my diet. My stomach popped out.
Now what? My life is about to change forever, and to change dramatically, and all I do is read webmd, ivillage, babycenter, storknet and a bunch of other sites containing largely identical information? In truth, this is not all I do. I also frantically add and remove stuff from my amazon baby registry. My baby shower, the right of passage ritual I appear to need so badly, is still about a half a year removed.
And so I am starting a blog for a beautiful and healthy baby.