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

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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.) 

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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.