Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Cost Of: Prenatal Care, First Two Trimesters

Coach wristlet (affiliate link) 

With any medical care-related expense in the US that's billed through health insurance, it's not necessarily that meaningful to hear about anyone else's experience. So much depends on the vagaries of one's own health plan, something I personally find nearly impossible to decipher or predict before my bills after insurance actually come in. (That's as someone who litigates multi-million dollar commercial contract disputes at my day job, no less!) 

Nonetheless, I always like to read about how much things cost, including American healthcare. I was originally hoping to do a post like this earlier in pregnancy, potentially one for each trimester. As it turns out, the billing department at my OB-GYN's office can be quite slow, so it was only recently that what I think(?) is the last bill from before the end of my second trimester - nearly 7 weeks ago - was finally processed with my insurer. 

This kind of timing isn't necessarily a huge shock in the American system, either. For instance, it was only this June that I finally saw a record pop up with my insurer for a PCR COVID test I took last December, during the start of NYC's Omicron surge. (That length of delayed billing is pretty unusual though, in my experience. There wasn't actually a bill to me involved either, because COVID testing in NYC was generally still free to the patient with government support back in December 2021.) 

For my prenatal care throughout the first two trimesters, through 26 weeks of pregnancy, the amounts I paid out of pocket for expenses that were - or could have been -  put through insurance was: $1,827.68

Unfortunately, I think this solidly establishes my health plan as being "not very good," in terms of the extent and quality of my coverage. Which is something I did already know beforehand. Many biglaw firms are known for offering associates extremely expensive health insurance plans, sometimes with poor coverage. My health insurance premiums aren't as bad, but the co-pays and other terms keep getting slightly worse by the year. For one random data point of comparison, a YouTube vlogger I follow who also lives in NYC only paid around $366.00 out of pocket on her insurance for prenatal care through roughly the same point in her pregnancy.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Fully Recovered from COVID

via Unsplash

Thank you for all the well-wishes after I got COVID! By the time my last post went live on Tuesday (after the onset of mild symptoms on Saturday and first testing positive with my peak symptoms on Sunday), I was already feeling much better. I've since continued to recover fairly quickly: I'm now close to feeling 100%, though have continued to rest at home as much as possible. (K tested at home almost every day, but he never got a COVID positive and his symptoms stayed mild.) 

Because I hadn't taken advantage of early voting before I came down with COVID - and because a certain conservative-leaning news sources in New York insisted that the only particularly contested race on my ballot, for New York's governor, was going to be close - I needed to step out briefly on Tuesday to vote. (That race turned out the way I wanted.) I masked the entire time I was out of my apartment. It's barely a two-block walk to my poll site; I was in and out in slightly less than ten minutes; and my symptoms were down to a mild cold level, though with some icky-sounding congestion. Nonetheless, I still needed to lay down for an hour or two afterwards to recover my energy. 

While my case of COVID has been extremely mild and quick to pass - even compared to fully vaccinated and boosted friends who were not immunocompromised by pregnancy at the time they had COVID (though I'm the only one who got it after having one of the new bivalent boosters, since those came out so recently) - it definitely felt weird compared to various colds I've had previously, or the flu. I lost my sense of smell completely for two days, which felt out of proportion to the moderate congestion I still had by then. (That, in turn, significantly muted my sense of taste.) 

Hard to pinpoint exactly how, but the cough and congestion just felt really different from my usual bad colds in past years, it sounded much worse than it felt. I think the hit to my energy levels for a few days also felt worse than with typical colds, but I've bounced back now, very quickly. 

It's looking like my mild to moderate COVID case won't increase my schedule or intensity of prenatal care, but I might not be able to fully confirm this until my next appointment OB-GYN on Monday. I was already due to be seen at least weekly starting at 36 weeks next week no matter what, so I'm going to have plenty of medical supervision regardless. My blood sugar was fully back to normal by Monday afternoon, and it's continuing to look like I won't need to go on medication or insulin for gestational diabetes this pregnancy, which is a huge relief, as that would have opened up a lot of potential issues. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

After Nearly Three Years...

via Unsplash

... COVID has finally gotten me for the first time, as far as I know! I felt a tiny bit off this past Saturday, but tested negative on a home COVID test. Then, by Sunday morning, my symptoms suddenly intensified to nasty cold level (sore throat, headache, general feeling of malaise) and I tested positive. 

Luckily, my COVID symptoms never got too intense, though my congestion and cough still sound really gnarly and worse than I actually feel. I never got a fever, and my symptoms already feel like they're improving, so fingers crossed I continue to avoid getting a fever or anything worse! Because third trimester already involved a moderate amount of shortness of breath, at least for me, that's gotten a bit worse while I have COVID symptoms. (I had my second COVID booster, with one of the new bivalent vaccines, around five weeks ago. K had his around four weeks ago.)

K started getting cold symptoms the day before I did, which he totally thought was a side effect from getting his annual flu shot the day before that. He's actually still testing negative on home COVID tests though, which hasn't been unusual for my colleagues and friends whose significant others tested positive for COVID in recent months. 

This turn of events hardly feels fair because I continue to be quite religious about masking in public indoor settings except when actively eating or drinking. That's even while at work in a very small office where I generally have only minimal or fleeting direct contact with my colleagues most weeks, including last week (legal practice can be a surprisingly solitary affair, even when done in-person at the office). At this point though - now that masking is essentially no longer required almost anywhere in NYC except in some health care settings, including my OB-GYN's office - the masking rate most places, including on crowded buses and the subway, is probably generally only around 20-30% here. 

K and I did eat out once last Tuesday, but that restaurant was nearly empty, We also ate out once somewhere busier the weekend before that, which I guess might be the more plausible source if I first got COVID symptoms roughly a full week after? But I don't think most people in NYC who need to go to the office and use public transit like me can ever know for sure when and how exactly they caught COVID these days, since there's generally always a fair amount of it going around. 

Like some other gestational diabetes ("GD") patients, I found that COVID caused some chaos with my blood glucose numbers. My blood sugar spikes weren't as extreme as some I've heard about, but on my first day of testing positive for COVID, my after-meal numbers were significantly over what they'd normally be for meals I've had often since I started testing daily. Thankfully, it seems like that particular effect of COVID is also subsiding quickly for me. That's despite losing my sense of smell, which also mutes my sense of taste somewhat, which does make it harder to fully keep up with my recommended eating and snacking schedule with GD. But my glucose numbers haven't been too badly affected by that. 

Having COVID during my third trimester isn't the most fun. The occasional pregnancy insomnia has made it difficult for me to really sleep in and get as much rest as I'd like. I'm also still trying to run down whether having COVID while fully vaccinated and boosted will require me to have more follow-up appointments with my main OB-GYN or the specialist team I was referred to for  my GD. (But at 36 weeks next week, I was already due to start having weekly appointments with my OB-GYN regardless.) 

Monday, October 31, 2022

October 2022 Shopping Reflections

Well my third trimester bump is so large and unwieldy now, and my pregnancy-related physical discomfort so substantial, that I'm definitely no longer able to expend any mental energy on trying to wear cute clothes! Almost all my fashion-related purchases this month are maternity wear, to get ready for fall and early winter temperatures in NYC. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

I was originally thinking I might be able to wear my usual fall/winter uniform of dresses and tights (and sweaters, particularly the J.Crew Juliette sweater blazers) once the weather cooled down during my third trimester. But after ordering a single pair of maternity tights (from Spanx) to try on, I quickly realized that just wasn't going to work. It takes so much effort to get into a pair of tights now - even putting on socks can leave me winded these days, and significantly more contortions are required to get a pair of tights on fully - that I could only ever manage it for special occasions. It's simply not happening for everyday wear. Thus, I'll be in maternity pants or leggings for the remaining six to seven weeks of my pregnancy. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $372.95) 

  • Kizik Vegas Sneaker, white - $140.45* - I got these solely because of Kizik's primary gimmick, that their sneakers are "hands-free", and slip right on. I'm happy to report these shoes work as promised: I do need to angle my foot in a little since I keep them fully tied and the opening for my foot isn't that large, but it's easy enough to do, even in my heavily pregnant state. These took a little time to break in the toe box and ankle, my feet got a bit sore after several hours out and about on the first day of wear. But that's typical enough and I didn't have any blisters or anything. I've been wearing my Kiziks almost every day since receiving them in early October, and they seem to be holding up reasonably well so far. 
  • Pact Maternity Airy Long-Sleeve Tee, storm - $40.00 - I bought four maternity tees from Pact once I knew I'd be in pants and leggings for most of my third trimester, and I'm quite satisfied with the quality. (All my non-maternity tees are too short to accommodate my third trimester bump.) The cotton fabric feels nice, though is slightly on the thin side (but the white tee is not sheer, so there's no real problem there). I don't layer sweaters over these for now because it's still somewhat warm. As with many other maternity wear lines, Pact recommends taking your size from before pregnancy - for me, a M - though I found these tees ran a noticeable amount larger than that. This is probably the first maternity wear brand I've tried that I'd describe that way because I grew so much in the bust and bump early on that I'd have done better sizing up in many brands by the middle of my second trimester. One additional issue is that my pre-pregnancy bust measurement puts me solidly in a M on Pact's sizing chart, while my waist and hip measurement belong in a S. 
  • Pact Maternity Airy Long-Sleeve Tee, mink gray - $40.00 - While all these Pact maternity tees are good quality, I don't love many of the color choices in their maternity line. This "mink grey" seems awkwardly in between olive green and light grey, so it's not my favorite as far as neutral shades go. Though I needed a lot of tees, so I still ordered this, and it was at least more neutral than some of the other remaining shades. 
  • Pact Maternity Slub Slouchy Tee, white - $40.00 - The neckline on these is a bit wide, so the effect can be a bit pajama-like. But I personally still prefer a slouchy, loose maternity tee over a ruched one. Just my nitpicky style preference... 
  • Pact Maternity Slub Slouchy Tee, ore - $40.00 - This is another somewhat odd neutral from Pact. The storm color the long-sleeve tee comes in is truer dark gray. Meanwhile, this ore shade is somewhere between slate blue and dark gray, though that works for my wardrobe a bit better than the more olive green mink gray. 
  • J.Crew Factory Maternity Jamie Pant, black - $44.50 - These have a comfortable soft stretch, though the fabric is fairly thin. I ordered two sizes - 6 and 8 -  to try on. From that, I don't think it makes the biggest difference with these pants to size up from your pre-pregnancy size or not, as the two sizes felt very similar. I ultimately kept the larger one because I figured it'd leave more room for the continued growth of my third trimester bump. 
  • Spanx Maternity Tights, black - $28.00 - (also here) I can't really give much of a review for these because I tried them on just once at home and quickly realized I just wasn't going to be able to regularly put on tights in my third trimester. My belly is just too in the way! As suggested, I ordered my pre-pregnancy size on their size chart and that seemed correct for my early third trimester bump. (Though as with many other brands that suggest taking your pre-pregnancy size in the maternity line, I think that by the end of pregnancy I'll be close to or actually in need of sizing up from that recommendation.)  
*Indicates that price includes sales tax

Nothing too exciting this month on the shopping front, and that will probably continue to be true for the rest of my pregnancy. There isn't even that much time left now, most likely around six or seven weeks, and that's such a daunting thought! Though I'm also feeling so big and unwieldy already that I'm totally kind of looking forward to it being over. (I was my mom's first baby and was born almost two weeks early with no complications or issues, so part of me is wondering if I might also deliver a bit early.) 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Early Third Trimester

Pact Maternity Airy Long-Sleeve Tee: Finally ordered some maternity tops, and Pact's are pretty good.

Things have quieted down considerably for me at the office, just in time for my third trimester pregnancy symptoms to escalate! I have noticeably less energy now and am definitely much less physically comfortable, and I still have around seven weeks of pregnancy to go. I can't even imagine how much bigger this bump can get, and how much more unwieldy it will feel... 

Alas, given my current lack of physical and mental energy, including for blogging, I think I'll be a lot quieter here until after my mid-December due date. I think I'll check in intermittently with my monthly shopping reflections and pregnancy-related posts. Not much room in my brain for thinking and writing about anything else!

Gestational Diabetes 

Fortunately, my gestational diabetes ("GD") remains well-controlled without medication, or even any particularly onerous changes to my eating habits or the limited physical activity levels I'm currently able to sustain. I'd always gravitated to a somewhat lower-carbohydrate diet just due to my personal tastes and preferences, and I'd also generally craved sweet foods less during pregnancy than at other times, so I'm really not eating that differently from how I was before the diagnosis. 

The only real changes I've needed to make so far are: 

  • (1) Like many GD patients, I have significantly more trouble digesting carbohydrates without blood sugar spikes in the early morning than later in the day, so I do need to be careful about breakfast. Strangely enough, half a regular white flour English muffin works better for me than a similarly small slice of whole-wheat bread for breakfast, even if the two items have the same carb content. Milk also contains carbs - which I never needed to think about before my diagnosis - so morning lattes are not an especially good idea at present. (This isn't a big deal because I also seem to be back to my first-trimester issue where coffee just doesn't taste right anyway.) 
  • (2) Only a few foods I enjoy are probably too difficult to successfully work into my lunch and dinner diet at present. One of those is pizza, which is unfortunate. (I could probably have a small slice or two with some non-carbohydrate side dishes for lunch or dinner, but that doesn't quite fit our habits on days that K and I feel like ordering pizza. It's easier to just avoid pizza for the next few weeks rather than try to make it work with my GD.) 
And that's it, really, at least for now, which isn't too bad! I'm starting to notice some of my fasting blood sugar readings are now a little higher than in earlier weeks - though they're still a margin below the typical cutoff for an abnormal reading at that time - which is consistent with the experience of many GD patients around 32 to 36 weeks. Fingers crossed things don't escalate to the point of needing medication or insulin, because those things are more complicated to manage and would also make the pregnancy somewhat higher-risk. 

Physical Symptoms

Oh lordy, things have continued getting significantly more uncomfortable as I progress into the third trimester. It almost feels like each week unlocks new levels of previously unknown discomfort. These days, getting dressed and putting on pants and socks is a big chore that can sometimes leave me feeling a bit winded. It also feels like there's less room in my torso now that the baby has grown considerably, which accounts for both some mild shortness of breath at times and being less hungry or less able to eat larger meals. That also causes a bit of heartburn or reflux.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

Sleep is becoming difficult, since it's becoming impossible to get comfortable, even with my trusty pregnancy pillow. Whenever I try to adjust my position while laying down, my belly feels so heavy and unwieldy.

At the moment, my most severe third-trimester ache or pain is that I get especially sore in my ribs, always on the right side. (Our little bean tends to kick and move in that area more than any other, maybe that's a factor.) Earlier on, I didn't start feeling rib pain until late evening some days, but more recently it's starting in the mid-afternoon. A pregnancy support belt helps, but not as much as it used to. 

I'm now seeing my OB-GYN for routine appointments once every two weeks. With my specialist referral for GD, I also have a separate remote video visit with either a nurse or a MFM roughly once every two to three weeks. Everything still looks healthy and on track, which I'm very grateful for. Fingers crossed that everything continues to go smoothly for the remaining weeks of pregnancy! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

September 2022 Shopping Reflections

I haven't done too much shopping this September while things have been so intensely hectic at the office. At least the end to this last big busy period before my eventual parental leave is finally in sight. The nature of my job as an attorney and litigator is, of course, that more work can always come up suddenly. Realistically, though, my parental leave is likely coming up so relatively soon and with some uncertainty about exact start date - my recent gestational diabetes ("GD") diagnosis can cause added unpredictability - that it's difficult to staff me on new longer-term cases or projects.

With the escalation of my pregnancy symptoms in the last weeks of second trimester - I can hardly believe I'll officially enter the third trimester this week - and the ever-increasing prominence of my bump, I don't feel especially comfortable in any clothes now. That's even true for maternity clothes

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

We had a few cooler days here recently, so I wore my Tibi oversized shirts and Madewell maternity skinny jeans (also here and here) out again for the first time in a few months. And the shirts have definitely gone from intentionally oversized chic to "wow, I look like I'm hiding a balloon under there!" My bump still fits comfortably under the belly band of my maternity jeans, though it's hard to imagine what happens when my bump gets even bigger.

As you can see, I finally made my long-delayed decision about a slimmer laptop backpack for work (after a pretty big misjudgment in that product category in March). Not a moment too soon, either, because pregnancy is definitely starting to make it harder for me to carry shoulder bags or totes with the typical amount of things I bring to and from work every day.

I also tried a somewhat relaxed-fit current-season Tibi merino wool-blend sweater (also here) with some subtle distressed details and an interesting cutout in the back this month, in my normal pre-pregnancy size M. While it fit and should continue to fit through most of the rest of pregnancy, it was just too difficult to imagine what it would look like after pregnancy for me to justify keeping it. The material was also not the lighter, smooth knit texture I normally expect from merino wool sweaters, there would have been a noticeable itch factor. 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $481.56)

  • Knomo Beauchamp Backpack - $205.77* - Amazon currently seems to be the only place Knomo's Beauchamp and Beaufort laptop backpacks are particularly available to US customers. To be completely honest, I'm also not 100% sure the Amazon listing is fully legit? I don't typically buy fashion items on Amazon... But the product I received feels right, based on having seen the Beauchamp or Beaufort in real life (one of my law school friends has one, but I'm not sure which one). I picked the larger Beauchamp that accommodates up to a 15.6'' laptop, instead of the slimmer Beaufort that's supposed to fit up to a 14'' laptop. I don't find the Beauchamp too large, and I wanted the bigger size that's a bit more flexible because I sometimes need to carry a binder or a lot of papers home. I've been bringing my new backpack to work every day for a few weeks now, and have no complaints so far, though I've also only needed to carry my laptop twice in that time. The straps have been comfortable enough, though I can tell they might not be ideal if I really stuffed the backpack full and it got much heavier. 
  • Catbird Ballerina Bracelet - $275.90* - As I mentioned last week, the decision to actually move forward with this purchase was a bit impulsive, after I pulled a near all-nighter to get our most important summary judgment filing out. Though I was also thinking about this bracelet since a few months ago. This bracelet is on the dainty side - it's small enough that it feels a bit difficult and fiddly to put on -  but it's also not too dainty. I've enjoyed wearing it 24/7 since receiving it and feel like it's reasonably noticeable for such a small piece. My listed price factored in a 10% off code for new Catbird customers signing up for the store's emails, though not the 2% Ebates/Rakuten cash-back (~$5) I also received. 

*Indicates that price includes sales tax and/or shipping charges. 

I don't always list my fine jewelry purchases in my monthly shopping reflections, though the price of the Catbird Ballerina Bracelet puts it in the zone of what I typically include. These days, because the idea of shopping for more maternity clothing has so little appeal, I find myself thinking about jewelry a lot more than I usually do. Some of the pieces I sort of have my eye on include the Jennie Kwon Diamond Wave Band and this Satomi Kawakita Braided Bracelet, and various more statement-making earrings, including from CompletedWorks (also here) or Agmes.

Except that I still can't really wear dangly earrings because I'm still fairly strict about wearing masks in public settings indoors - can't be too careful in my third trimester, especially with one higher-risk diagnosis under by belt already - and I don't want my mask straps to get tangled on my earrings. And now is also not a great time to shop for rings either, as my fingers definitely swell just a bit too much at this point of pregnancy to wear my engagement ring or wedding band anymore. (I don't think those rings are at real risk of getting stuck, but I'm a bit paranoid about that possibility so I stopped wearing those rings once they started feeling noticeably tighter most days.) Alas, I generally don't get to have a lot of fun with thinking about fashion lately... 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Catbird Ballerina Bracelet

As it turns out, some unexpected developments in court have made it so my last big push at work before I start my parental leave will almost certainly come to an end by early October, which cuts my total workload significantly from what I originally expected. But that doesn't make this month's intensely busy period at the office any easier! For other attorneys familiar with US litigation, we are right in the middle having seven briefs due in five weeks in one major case, with three of those briefs being for summary judgment. (And our team just came off another busy period of expert depositions and other filings in another case, no less!) 

I recently had my first ever near all-nighter for work - I was able to lay down for an hour and a half before going back to the office the next day, though I wasn't ultimately able to fall asleep - in connection with the biggest filing of the seven. After that, I decided I was going to buy another gift for myself, even if there wasn't strictly a professional milestone involved. And because my near-third trimester belly is too big to feel particularly good in clothing, that gift was another piece of jewelry: the Catbird Ballerina Bracelet

I've been looking at this piece for at least a few months. I even mentioned it back in March as a potential alternative to the Jennie Kwon Jadeite Equilibrium Ring I ultimately chose to commemorate my first defense of a deposition as the first-chair attorney. My interest in the Catbird Ballerina Bracelet came in part from wanting a fine jewelry gold bangle bracelet someday, but all such things are extremely expensive. (Which is natural, because gold is also very expensive!) With the solid bar portion of the design, this bracelet is sort of two-thirds thin bangle, one-third chain bracelet. 

Over many years of browsing Catbird's website - they're quite trendy amongst many NYC-dwellers! - with much of the jewelry they stock, I often worry it'll be a little too dainty to really look good on me, or to have a presence and be particularly visible. Though now that I've dabbled a bit more in dainty jewelry like the Jennie Kwon ring (not a design Catbird carries, but they have many other Jennie Kwon designs) and this bracelet, I'm coming around to the idea of this more dainty jewelry. 

I've been wearing this bracelet 24/7 since it arrived, and I think it's lovely and looks good even if it's small. I hope that the design will hold up to that kind of wear and tear. It's a little finicky to take on and off, so it's easiest to just wear it all the time.  (The bar portion is a bit bendy and flexible by design, and as for the chain, I know Catbird sells chain bracelets designed to be soldered on permanently, so the chain should be hardy enough to withstand long-term wear?) 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Life with Gestational Diabetes (Part 1)

I've now had my gestational diabetes ("GD") diagnosis for almost three weeks. It's been a bit of an adventure, and definitely not an especially fun one. The good news is that - at least for now, and hopefully also for the next few weeks or longer - it seems likely I can manage the condition fairly easily with relatively small diet and lifestyle changes. The bad news is I'm finding that the standard of care for gestational diabetics at my OB-GYN practice and the specialists they refer to is not especially high, so there's been little support from my medical professionals. This isn't an insurmountable problem at present because my condition is luckily uncomplicated for now, but it doesn't feel great to navigate it mostly by myself.

Because today's topic is completely about a potentially serious medical condition and the management thereof, an important and necessary disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so for all things to do with GD, please consult with your doctor first and foremost. Sadly, it does seem like my experience with feeling somewhat left in the lurch by one's medical team is not that uncommon with GD, so I think many people end up finding lots of guidance and help from other people who have been there. (In the past few weeks, I've been on the r/GestationalDiabetes subreddit for much of my education about how to manage the condition.) 

The Emotional Side

As I mentioned last week, I probably wasn't as shocked or upset about my diagnosis as many might be. I have huge genetic risk factors for Type 2 diabetes in my family, and already had a right-on-the-edge of prediabetic blood sugar reading at a physical last year, which means that many of the scary implications of GD for the pregnant patient were things I already knew to be true for me long before my diagnosis. 

That being said, once I finally got in for my specialist consult and officially received medical counseling about the potential very bad side effects of poorly managed GD for both baby and pregnant person, I did feel emotionally distraught for a few hours while I processed that. (This first appointment happened nearly 10 days after my diagnosis, a not uncommon time gap.) My understanding is that much of the severity of GD - particularly around weeks 32 to 36 of pregnancy - is basically not in the patient's direct control because it's mostly driven by the placenta and hormones. Thus, the medical advice can sound a bit like "hey, all these super-bad things can happen, but you really can't control if it happens." Which, yikes...

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Vacation to Turks and Caicos

Grace Bay Beach: It's a very long stretch of sand, and all of it quite nice and with very calm water.

I can't believe it's already been over a month since K and I returned from our vacation to Turks and Caicos! Our trip took place when I was 20 to 21 weeks pregnant, and in hindsight that was definitely the right time to travel on what you might call our "babymoon." Had I waited even two or three more weeks, air travel and even walking around in a new place would have been significantly less physically comfortable. (And well, little did I know I was about to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which would make eating a lot more complicated...) 

This post is sort of a review of both Turks and Caicos as a destination and also of our hotel, The Palms Turks and Caicos ("The Palms"), both of which we enjoyed and were quite happy with. I'd totally love to go back to both on a future vacation, though it must be said Turks and Caicos is generally a super-expensive destination, and I'm not entirely sure K and I's general career plans would make either place the most feasible trip price-wise for us once we are a family of three or more. 

My primary goal when selecting a vacation destination - it was K and I's first big trip together since the start of the COVID pandemic! - was total relaxation on a nice beach. When I started planning the trip this May, Turks and Caicos was one of relatively few Caribbean destinations that didn't require a negative COVID test result for entry, and that was a big part of why we selected it. Because I need to go to the office every day, and NYC doesn't have the lowest rate of COVID positives, it would've been too nerve-wracking to know our fairly expensive trip could be disrupted by a positive test. 

Getting There

JetBlue runs round-trip direct flights from JFK airport to Turks and Caicos basically every day, and that was the most convenient option for us. (United flies direct from Newark, probably the next best option for many NYC-area travelers.) We've heard a lot of horror stories about flight delays and disruptions recently, but I think the nature of JetBlue's JFK-Turks & Caicos schedule is such that any disruption more significant than an hour or so's delay here and there is relatively unlikely. Our flight home was delayed 40 minutes, and that was the only problem we encountered. 

I've been hearing a lot about how expensive air travel is recently from various friends who've flown often for both work and pleasure this year. I don't think that was too apparent with our tickets for this trip, maybe due to the location. We paid right around $395/person for our flights, which isn't too bad, I think?

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Second Trimester (Part Two)


I'm now close to the start of the third trimester! Alas, in the past three or four weeks, I've started to experience bigger challenges from certain side effects and symptoms of pregnancy. I'm maybe a little - or a lot - worried about what the entire third trimester will feel like, if I'm already starting to have a hard time. 

Physical Symptoms: Thank goodness, the itching I mentioned in late July went away by itself pretty quickly in the following three to four weeks. I've asked the doctor about it, and they aren't worried. My acne is a bit better for now. Most of the disruptions to my digestive system have also improved, though are still noticeable. I've been very fortunate in that the worst nausea I've had during this pregnancy in the first trimester still wasn't that bad, definitely not enough to throw off my eating habits. That symptom seems to have disappeared now in the second half of the second trimester.

Sadly, what is more difficult for me now in terms of physical symptoms is that I've started experiencing all kinds of aches and pains. I currently live walking distance from my office, with my commute on foot taking 18 to 20 minutes each way. As of three weeks ago, I've started taking public transit to and from work instead of walking - even though it doesn't actually save me any time - because I was experiencing too much pain and discomfort. 

I normally love grocery shopping - it's my favorite chore and never feels like an imposition - but I've found I pretty much need to stop running that errand alone as well, as I can't really carry a not-particularly-heavy full bag of groceries - and definitely not two such bags - for 10 to 15 minutes while walking home anymore. I end up sore all over for more than a day afterwards. I'll really miss doing this basic task on a whim for the rest of my pregnancy. (I can still maybe grab a few lighter items at a time from the nearest grocery store to home or work in a pinch, but no more big shops unless K is there to carry most of what we buy.) 

Please note that this portion of the post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

In order to try and manage the discomfort, I've been using a fairly large pregnancy pillow, the LeahCo Snoogle, for quite a while now, since week 12 or so. I didn't really need it at first, but now I definitely do, and I've particularly appreciated having the pillow since week 15. I also bought a much smaller and more easily packable Boppy wedge-style pregnancy pillow (also here or here) for K and I's recent vacation, which also worked fairly well to keep me sleeping on my side and was reasonably comfortable. When I'm laying down and using my computer in bed, I use both the Snoogle and Boppy to lay down on an incline. 

Much more recently, I've also started wearing a pregnancy belt under my clothes, and it definitely helps a lot and is even necessary for me now, even with a bus commute and sedentary desk job. I picked one fairly randomly on Amazon, sizing up to account for how I have a few months of pregnancy and growth to go, and it works pretty well. 

One-Hour Glucose Test: My OB-GYN's office has patients take the one-hour glucose tolerance test ("GTT") for gestational diabetes during their 24th week appointments. A lot of people say the glucola drinks used for the tests taste gross - the one-hour version contains 50 grams of sugar in 10 oz, compared to, say, the 39 grams in a 12 oz bottle of coke - so I felt some trepidation, especially because I basically never drink soda or juice and only rarely get sweetened lattes. They also instruct you to drink the entire thing in five minutes or less.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

August 2022 Shopping Reflections


It's a few days early for my end-of-month shopping reflections, but I'm pretty sure this is it for August. Things are starting to ramp up at the office again, alas, for what's hopefully the last big, but fairly extended push - this current busy period should last into at least early or mid-November - at work before my due date, so I probably won't be posting quite as frequently in the next few weeks. 

With my recently published first trimester shopping reflections, it's probably somewhat obvious that pregnancy has not been particularly great for my general goal of being more careful and minimalist-ish about my shopping. I didn't fully anticipate all the changes my body would go through, particularly if I wanted to buy more relaxed-fit non-maternity clothing in hopes it would work for at least some portion of the pregnancy. Navigating sizing for maternity wear, and trying to pick items and sizes that might work throughout the entire pregnancy, has also been difficult. And I'm still nearly four weeks off from the start of the third trimester, so who even knows how much harder things might get later on...

Anyway, I'm trying not to complain too much, but I think most people who've spent any time shopping for maternity wear would agree with me that the choices out there are dire, and are often quite overpriced for what you're getting to boot. Many of you have mentioned having that exact feeling! As I explained in my first trimester shopping post, I'm already very tired of shopping for and wearing maternity clothing. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

These days, between being busy at work and feeling too tired in the evenings to do much besides watch TV and window shop online, I do find myself spending lots of time looking at jewelry and accessories, in other words, non-maternity items I can still wear. I'm desperate to feel like my old, pre-pregnancy self, and browsing for jewelry and accessories seems like one way to try and get that feeling back. I keep reminding myself not to impulsively buy anything too expensive. (The recent state of the economy, with rent increases, inflation, and the performance of the stock market, all help keep me in check, along with the prospects of impending childcare-related expenses for our little bean and my hopes for my government job search, which would definitely come with a dramatic pay-cut if I were to be successful.) 

Fashion - (TOTAL: $369.18)

  • H&M MAMA Ribbed Nursing Dress, black - $34.99 - After spending tons of time browsing what feels like almost all the maternity wear options in the US, including bigger retailers like ASOS, Target, Old Navy, and H&M; dedicated maternity brands like Seraphine, Hatch, and Kindred Bravely; and smaller brands like Storq and Pact, I've found there doesn't seem to be much getting around relying heavily on "fast fashion" if shopping new in this market. Though it probably is plausible to depend exclusively on shopping secondhand. There are certainly lots of options on ThredUp. (I imagine most customers are in maternity wear for such a relatively short period, a few months at a time, that many end up with plenty of used maternity clothing still in good enough condition to donate or resell. That's even while factoring in that much of it isn't especially good quality or durable relative to the price!) Honestly, out of all those brands, I think H&M's been the best for more consistently offering relatively non-frilly, non-ruffly, less ruched, and less peplum-y maternity wear, with more options in cotton and not just viscose or rayon. A lot of the more basic and simple H&M maternity designs I'm most interested in do tend to sell out in my size, however. This dress is 95% cotton, 5% elastane. 
  • H&M MAMA Cotton Dress, black - $24.99 - And this dress is 100% cotton. For both H&M maternity dresses this month, I find the fabric noticeably thinner than I'd expect from a comparable item in H&M's non-maternity line. These are both simple black dresses for days I need to wear business casual (or something more formal, but business casual is the best I can currently do). I picked size L in both based on H&M's non-maternity clothes sometimes running a little smaller than, say, J.Crew or Ann Taylor, so my typical pre-pregnancy size in H&M can be L instead of M, depending on the item. These maternity size Ls are somewhat bigger than I need right now, but I'm expecting to grow plenty more in the bust and belly in the coming weeks, so I'm pretty sure I picked the right size if the goal is to have maternity items last through the end of the pregnancy
  • AGMES Pearl Stud Earrings - $163.31* - (also here) I mentioned having recently learned about AGMES jewelry from other stylish people a few weeks ago. This is a fairly small and subtle pair of irregularly-shaped freshwater baroque pearl studs on sterling silver posts, which are a bit more interesting than my usual round pearl studs. I don't think these are quite as eye-catching as AGMES's more typical designs, but because I'm still wearing face masks in almost all indoor public settings - can't be too careful while immunocompromised by pregnancy - I still can't wear bigger or dangling earrings without getting them tangled up in my mask straps. On a separate note, am I the only one who usually expects new-to-me jewelry to be a bit bigger than it actually is before I open the package? That's solely my fault and not on any of the designers or retailers, by the way. I'm just really not great at judging what small objects' size measurements will translate to in-person. 
  • Tibi Merino Wool Sweater Combo Pullover, black/multi - $145.89* - This is from Tibi's end-of-season sale on their Spring/Summer items. I sized up from my usual Tibi size to a L, and I think this top should still fit me when I get to the third trimester and the weather's cooled down. Design-wise, this is sort of a merino wool sweater in the front, and a cotton button-down in the back, both are halves of things I currently own and like from Tibi. 

*Indicates that price includes sales tax. 

And that's it for August! Maternity tops are a category I really haven't shopped for enough yet, though I'm most likely going to put that off for as long as possible while the weather is still too hot and humid in NYC for anything but my lightest dresses. Once I do get around to it, however, I think Pact has a better range of more basic maternity tees with some non-ruched options and a decent selection of neutral colors compared to many larger retailers. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Another Professional Milestone Gift to Myself

The Jennie Kwon Jadeite Equilibrium Ring.

Back in March, I mentioned that I thought I might get the chance to defend my first deposition as the first-chair attorney soon. I wasn't 100% sure this would happen - there were some potential complications with client preferences for more senior attorneys to do important things - but it ultimately came to pass. That's another professional milestone in the books, though one that doesn't feel quite so big or daunting as taking a deposition for the first time!

Ever since paying off my substantial - mostly for law school - student loans last year, I like to commemorate my professional milestones by buying jewelry for myself. For defending my first deposition, I took a few months to decide what I wanted. I ended up choosing this Jennie Kwon Jadeite Equilibrium Ring, which I've been wearing almost every day since I received it. 

I wasn't initially sure such a dainty design would work for me. With super-small or dainty pieces, I sometimes worry they might not have as much of a presence, or that they might not suit me as much as something a bit bigger. It turns out I really love this piece, and it makes me curious about potentially buying more Jennie Kwon jewelry in the future, especially because I now have some interest in slowly building a collection of stacking rings for daily-ish wear. (I'm somewhat influenced in this by @myjewelrydiaries on Instagram, she has a sizable collection of yellow gold rings that she wears in various combinations.) 

One other Jennie Kwon design I find particularly intriguing is the Diamond Wave Band (affiliate link), which I think might stack nicely with my engagement ring and wedding band. I also like the look of the East West Green Sapphire Equilibrium Ring. I love how sapphires come in such a wide range of colors! 

Monday, August 15, 2022

First Trimester Maternity Clothing Shopping Reflections

As promised, I've finally put together my first trimester maternity wear shopping reflections, for items I ordered in April and May, before I was ready to announce the pregnancy! Not all these items are explicitly labeled maternity wear, actually, but for the ones not so categorized, I didn't think I'd be able to explain them without pointing to the pregnancy. 

In general, I've found that my body has changed very quickly with pregnancy, much faster and just more in all the relevant ways and dimensions than expected. Heck, I think my bust went up a full cup size super-early in my first trimester. And now that I'm solidly in the second trimester - particularly as I get into the later weeks - the changes progress even more quickly and noticeably, and often seem to pop up suddenly. 

For instance, in week 13, practically overnight, there was an undeniable bump, albeit one that was pretty small in the mornings, until I got bloated throughout the day. Around weeks 18 to 19, suddenly the bump felt huge most of the time, particularly on weekdays when I walk to and from the office. After week 21, the bump was huge all the darn time. I can only imagine that because the baby is to grow exponentially in the next 18 weeks or so, from roughly a pound at 22 weeks now to something likely more than 5.5 pounds - maybe a lot more - the physical changes will continue to escalate more quickly than I can currently imagine!

I recently discussed how, until I got pregnant, I was worried I'd have tons of anxiety about body image and all the inevitable changes to my body from pregnancy. As it turns out, this pregnancy also seems to have rewired my brain to worry and stress much less about almost everything in life, so I haven't been too, too bothered by all this so far. 

But I must admit I find shopping for maternity wear extremely annoying. Part of it is I'm frustrated that I've proven not good at predicting all the body shape changes I need to take into account when buying non-maternity clothes with more relaxed fits which I thought would work for my pregnant body. Also, it certainly caused consternation that many of my pre-pregnancy predictions for how long I'd be able to wear my looser-fitting clothing from my existing wardrobe turned out quite wrong. I didn't expect that basically my entire collection of business casual dresses, especially those secondhand J.Crew Presentation dresses - which are not too snug in the bust and have lots of room otherwise - would be uncomfortable and essentially unwearable by week 7 or so. 

Furthermore, I find that the value for money and variety of designs available in the maternity wear market, at least for US-based customers, is significantly worse than I'm used to as a customer. I guess I've become super-picky about my clothing throughout my years of keeping this blog and spending lots of time thinking about - and sometimes overthinking - my shopping and what works for my lifestyle and my personal style preferences!

There's so much viscose and rayon jersey in maternity wear, materials I'm definitely not fully opposed to, but that I don't prefer because of a history of unpredictable issues with durability, unexpected shrinkage, or other trouble when machine-washed. (Keep in mind I'm pretty careful with my laundry, washing only in cold water and generally in a mesh bag to protect the clothes; I also never put viscose or rayon items in the dryer either, I always air-dry.) Many of those viscose or rayon maternity items also feel quite overpriced - especially from Hatch Maternity, ouch - even if I try to shop on sale. 

Also, I find many common design elements in maternity wear... dispiriting. (I know, I know, I'm starting to sound whiny, and maybe a bit unreasonable.) I generally hate ruching and peplums. I don't like empire waists on tops (though I'm okay with them on dresses). I'm not fond of super-stretchy items that will feel like they're stretching tightly over the curves of the body. The prints that are available tend to be quite dull and generic, particularly the florals. The colors available can be limited and sometimes... odd. 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Life Lately: Back From Vacation

One of K's photos from beautiful Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos.

I just got back from a lovely and rejuvenating vacation or "babymoon" to Turks and Caicos, and am now settling back in for several more extremely busy months at the office before our little bean arrives. Today's post is a grab bag of a few smaller, non-pregnancy related things that have caught my attention recently. 

I greatly enjoyed this Harper's Bazaar article about the history of Tibi as the brand reaches its 25 year anniversary. There won't be too much new information here if you've followed the company and its founder Amy Smilovic for a while, but I still find the story of Smilovic's complete reinvention of the brand around 2011 fascinating. It's particularly interesting because Tibi was first founded with its original more preppy, print-focused aesthetic - so different from the brand's approach to design today - in 2008, around when I first became interested in fashion (though I didn't have any sense of my personal style and just read about what was popular in fashion magazines and other blogs). Many brands I remember from back then are no longer around.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

Speaking of things I first came across in part because of my interest in Tibi, here's another jewelry brand somewhat in the same design vein as Smilovic favorite CompletedWorks (also here, here, here, and here): I recently learned about Agmes Jewelry (also here, here, and here) from fellow Tibi fan TheCreativeClassicist, who in turn discovered it in part because of new J.Crew head of women's design, Olympia Gayot. Agmes is somewhat similar to CompletedWorks in that both favor very contemporary, more sculptural designs. Some Agmes pieces I like can be found in the widget below: 

These days, I find I have many ideas for longer-form posts, but not much time and energy to write them because of my long hours at work. Among other things,  I haven't really written about personal finance or money for a long time. 

One big idea is for a post about K and I's experience with negotiating and signing a fairly straightforward and simple prenup, which then became a postnup - a distinction that generally doesn't make a significant difference under New York law - due to getting time-crunched in the weeks before our courthouse wedding last year. Throughout the process, I did learn that some of my original assumptions about prenups were a bit incorrect. 

In general, I feel like many people around my age in the US have a fairly accurate sense about how prenuptial agreements generally work and why both people entering a marriage might want one. For instance, when the topic comes up on r/MoneyDiariesActive (e.g. here, here, here, here, and here), most replies are in the zone of reasonably correct. There aren't too many people whose views are completely off-base. People do sometimes forget that because prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreements are contracts, they can be negotiated and customized to a potentially very large extent by the parties. Thus, relatively few things are inherently true about all such agreements. 

Entertainment-wise: This year's Formula 1 racing season has been incredibly dramatic, but often not for happenings on the racetrack. K and I continue to derive tons of amusement from following the sport. 

We also recently took advantage of a few months of free Apple TV+ through one of K's other subscriptions, and it's been fun watching some of their shows, in particular Foundation and For All Mankind. The writing quality on For All Mankind can be uneven - it's an alternate history about the space race with very long time-jumps between seasons, which can cause some issues with character development - but we've still been really enjoying it so far. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

Skincare Reviews: Some Mineral Sunscreens for Body

During our recent Turks and Caicos vacation - in which K and I spent basically all our daylight hours relaxing on the beach, with several dips in the ocean throughout - I tested out three different mineral body sunscreens. In trying to research "reef safe" and mineral sunscreens before our trip, I found myself quite overwhelmed because there were so many brands out there, many of them smaller or less well-known than what's typically available at many US drug stores. So I figured I might as well review the ones I tried, in case that information could possibly help anyone else!

Please note that my reviews here are subjective and not particularly scientific. I'm basically going off my personal observations from using each of these sunscreens for the equivalent of around two full beach days each, ~10:30 AM to 6:30 PM, switching between them as I ran out of one or the other. (Many mineral sunscreens aren't available in super-large packages like the drugstore brands.) 

Each day, I reapplied sunscreen roughly once every 2 hours, or a bit sooner if I thought more sunscreen than expected had washed off during one of my quick ocean swims. So I was generally applying around 4 times a day, and maybe a fifth time on my shoulders and arms, spots that felt like they got more sun exposure. Additionally, I wore a straw sun hat - albeit one that'd gotten a bit floppy and squished from somewhat careless packing - and also tried my best to stay as covered as I could under a beach umbrella whenever I wasn't in the water. That beach umbrella definitely wasn't perfect protection because of how the angle of the shade changes drastically throughout the day with the sun's movement.  

I may not have picked the best or most popular brands of mineral body sunscreen available in the US. I didn't have much time or mental energy for research before our trip because I'd been so busy at the office. Every time I searched  Google for the "best" mineral or reef safe sunscreens, I felt like many websites had drastically different lists of recommended brands or products. Plus, I was nervous about buying any fancier, Sephora or department store-priced mineral sunscreens if I didn't have someone I personally know make the product recommendation. Thus, I ended up sticking with things sold at Target, which maybe limits one's options too much in this product category. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

My biggest worry was that, with many mineral sunscreens, one often sees at least one or two extremely negative reviews. Think something like "this sunscreen doesn't work at all, we still got badly burned wearing it" or "it was impossible to blend into my skin" or "this had a really off texture that made it difficult to use." If any of the sunscreens I picked turned out to have issues like that, it would have been a disaster with the kind of high sun exposure beach vacation I was planning. Happily, there weren't any big problems, all the sunscreens I tried were reasonably functional. All three also had no noticeable scent or fragrance. 

Though one warning, I generally found these mineral sunscreens were not very waterproof, with sometimes very visible signs that they were washing off, potentially after an extremely brief swim. I think this may be a common issue with many or even most products in this category, compared to many chemical sunscreens?  

Friday, August 5, 2022

Pregnancy and Body Image

via Unsplash

Before I got pregnant, I was worried I'd constantly be extremely anxious about all kinds of details, including but not limited to the health of the baby; my health; everything I needed to do to get ready for baby's arrival; starting to plan out future childcare for after my parental leave; money and the many expenses associated with raising a child; how to parent and take care of an infant, etc. etc. In reality, "pregnancy brain" has, for me, seemed to come with a pervasive sense of calm. 

My mind feels newly hard-wired to not worry excessively about much of anything, really, particularly things that aren't immediate concerns or that aren't meaningfully in my control. Among other things, I've faced our recent busy period at the office with minimal extra stress or anxiety, I've become really good at taking it all a day at a time and being almost absurdly zen. That's quite out of character for me! 

I'm admittedly noticeably below average when it comes to Type-A personality tendencies relative to my typical law school classmate, and to most other attorneys who started their careers in biglaw. But historically, I still tend to get highly anxious about almost all of the many super-stressful things that come up in litigation practice and my work.

Please note that, as the title suggests, today's blog post is all about body image and will also mention some things to do with weight-related numbers and pregnancy symptoms. Along with that comes the usual important disclaimer: I'm not a medical professional, so please keep that in mind whenever I discuss health-related details. But I am guided by the advice of the team at my OB/GYN's office.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

July 2022 Shopping Reflections

Thanks to my recent particularly intense busy period at the office, I'm way behind on writing that post I promised about my first trimester "items explicitly labeled as maternity wear" shopping. Hopefully I'll be able to get to it soon. In the meantime, here's my July 2022 shopping reflections post, now including both maternity wear and "regular" wardrobe purchases. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

K and I are headed off on a beach vacation - I guess one could call it a "babymoon," given the timing - to Turks and Caicos very soon! I absolutely can't wait. After all my long hours at the office this year and all the business travel, I was desperately in need of a chill vacation. We don't plan to do very much at all besides sit on the beach and relax, and that will be amazing. 

Fashion - (Total: $235.25) 

  • Old Navy Maternity Rollover-Waist Linen-Blend Shorts, flax - $25.99 - Although I didn't really have the beginnings of a noticeable baby bump until around week 13 of pregnancy, I did have so much bloating on and off before then that I haven't really fit into non-maternity pants since week 9. And between weeks 6 and 9, I only felt comfortable in my most relaxed-fit jeans, mostly the Tibi Brancusi (also here). These shorts are primarily for my upcoming beach vacation, as I don't normally spend much time wearing anything but dresses in the summer. (While my office is still not back to its original business casual dress code, shorts would definitely be a bridge too far!) I liked these linen-blend shorts better than another pair of Old Navy maternity shorts I also tried on, these are a bit lighter in material and have a less bulky rollover waistband. 
  • Longchamp Le Pliage Filet Bag, white - $119.76* - (also here and here) This was admittedly a highly impulsive purchase, inspired in large part by some of Lumiere d'Helen's Instagram posts. I think it'd be reasonable to consider this a ridiculous price for a bag comprised almost entirely of cotton string, but I'm really enjoying carrying it so far, it's so light and is a fun look for summer. At present, I mainly use this for groceries or as a second bag - in addition to my recently-purchased Madewell woven leather Transport tote (also here) - while I'm commuting to or from work. 
  • J.Crew Cotton Voile Ruffle Beach Dress, navy - $44.75 - My bump's now big enough to pull up the hem on my old swimsuit cover-up from J.Crew, so I was in the market for a new one. This "beach dress" definitely seemed relaxed-fit enough that it should work for pregnancy, even if it's not labeled maternity wear. I liked both of these colors, so I decided to get both since we'll be spending a full week in Turks and Caicos, and I plan to be at the beach or pool most of that time. 
  • J.Crew Cotton Voile Ruffle Beach Dress, vivid flame - $44.75 - This beach dress runs extremely large, by the way. Pre-pregnancy, I was a true size M or 8 or 10 in most J.Crew tops and dresses, and the size S/M in this is huge on my current body! Part of it is my being only 5'3'', I guess, this item is definitely designed for someone taller - as are most regular-sizing clothes ever, admittedly - so it's maxi-length on me. The cotton voile is on the very light and arguably flimsy side of what one might expect, I don't think this would be suitable for most people to wear anywhere outside of poolside or the beach. 

This month, I also tried on the Quince 14k bold stacker ring, but returned it because I didn't like the way it looked on my hand. I tend to like the look of daintier rings, and also some very thick ones, but a lot of more medium-sized "bold" rings often don't suit me as well. I probably also need something between sizes 7 and 8 for my index finger, so anything that's only available in full ring sizes probably won't work. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Second Trimester (so Far)

We recently bought the Nuna Pipa Rx infant car seat from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (affiliate links), but it's now sold out. 

Oh my, things went rather sideways at work in the past few weeks - some big deadlines ended up being far more difficult than our team expected - so I'm generally quite behind on things I wanted to write for the blog. I'm completely exhausted, but at least I'm taking some vacation time soon, which will hopefully feel rejuvenating! 

This entire year has been fairly nonstop at the office for me. With that plus the added stress of big life events like the pregnancy and those government job interviews, it's all left me with basically no mental energy for anything except watching TV when I get home from work. I haven't really been able to get myself to read for fun most of this year. 

I'm now in my 20th week of pregnancy, partway through the second trimester. Some symptoms are better than in the first trimester, particularly the nausea, and also coffee and tea taste a bit more normal again, yay! But I don't think my energy levels have actually improved that much overall. Most of my symptoms are honestly still pretty similar in intensity to before, especially the acne and disruptions to my digestive system (alas, both things are quite un-fun!). 

For the past 4 weeks or so, I've had my first persistent enough symptom to want to raise it at my next prenatal appointment: My skin gets itchy throughout the day. I'm not usually great about moisturizing regularly with body lotion, but I started to be religious about it and that didn't even help so much. There's no rash or anything, and I don't think it's from dry skin either. Thankfully, this particular symptom is a little better now than it was around week 17. I think this is a fairly common side effect of pregnancy and is generally benign, but it can also be associated with some rare but serious side effects, so I'll still raise it at my next appointment.

I mentioned that I started getting a small but definite baby bump around week 13 (and that I've had enough bloating on and off since week 7 that I personally felt like I generally looked like I had a bump at least half the time, particularly towards the end of the day). But wow, all of a sudden in week 19, my bump really, really popped! 

It's definitely gotten to the point where even strangers can notice, and I grumble internally about how I feel like a beach ball. If the bump looks and feels this large at 19 weeks, I shudder to think about what I'll feel like past, say, 30 or 35 weeks. I definitely have a more difficult time now with the hot and humid NYC summer weather than I did pre-pregnancy, but at least the weather will hopefully cool down somewhat by the time I reach the third trimester...