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Maternity pants, why do you suck so bad?  I hate you, and long for the days of the muu-muu.  When I first was pregnant, I made do with plenty of my looser fitting clothing.  As the weeks progressed, I compensated for my barely enlarged belly by leaving the top button of my pants open, or by zipping my skirts most of the way up.  All my shirts still fit.  I had to be creative, and certain garments were off-limits, but I was pretty comfortable.  Sometimes I’d notice that a skirt that I could zip in the morning was feeling a might pinchy by bedtime, but gravity plays cruel tricks on all of us.

I was able to get away with a few pairs of larger sized thrift-store shorts for the entirety of July.  The slightly larger waistband fit pretty well as long as I didn’t do something stupid, like hang my keys off a belt-loop while walking the dogs.  I made some dresses this summer, too, which freed me up from the boredom of rotating the 3 pairs of shorts that fit.  I started digging in the bag of maternity clothing my mother had dumped on me, searching for dresses to stave off the heat wave. 

As we prepared for our trip toIreland, and I had to start evaluating the function of my wardrobe as well.  It was going to be in the 60s, not the 90s, and I had to start thinking about pant-type garments.  As we packed, I finally broke into the hoard of proper maternity clothing from my mother, as I wasn’t sure I had 10 days worth of Ireland-appropriate clothing from my pre-pregnancy days. 

I also hit the thrift stores again, and found some maternity pants that would work for the fall, once I got back to work and had to dress more appropriately.  I still wasn’t big enough to fill out all the elastic in the waistbands.  To humor myself, I tried on one of every type of maternity pants.  I’m not talking jeans vs. khakis.  I’m talking about one of every type of compensatory waist-band-like support system.  And though while trying them on, I tried to imagine a larger belly filling them in, I still had to wonder at their incredible awfulness.  Behold.

1) The drawstring.  This type works best when tied below the bulge, and they rest on the womanly hips.  I have a pair of non-maternity pants with a drawstring waist in my rotation.  I hemmed them before we went to Ireland, and have spent every day that I choose to wear them constantly pulling them back up on my hips, and retying the drawstring.  They scoop below my belly, which puts pressure (again, gravity) pulling them down off my hips, which are the last vestige of decency. 

2) The wide, stretchy waistband.  This type is vaguely reminiscent of the fold-top gaucho or yoga pants.  The extra-wide waistband is designed so you can allegedly unfold it and pull it up your belly, or fold it over a la hipster.  They work pretty well when they are actually exercise clothing, i.e., when the waistband fabric is the same as the pant fabric.  And when the waistband has stretch, but also resiliency.  One pair I put on this weekend did not have enough oomph in the waistband, so it kept rolling over below my belly, cutting of circulation to whatever’s going on down there, and trying to pull itself off of my hips.  I have a pair with a combo elastic waistband and drawstring.  While comfortable at least, they don’t stay up, and I am constantly retying the waistband all day long. 

3) The plain elastic waistband.  These are your grandma’s pants.  If you’re lucky, the rise is so high you can’t sling them below the belly, and are forced to pull the massive amounts of crotch fabric up to the belly button (wherever that went; mine is kind of closing up and looks very sad), thus creating the tell-tale elastic mark around the widest part of the belly, just like a red, itchy equator.  I picked up a pair at a garage sale for $1, and while they seemed tolerable in the morning, I was exasperated by the pinching equator mark by 6pm. 

4) The pouch.  The pouch pants look innocently enough like a pair of jeans or khakis from the back, but have a huge round cut-out from the regular fabric, filled in with stretchy fabric.  They are meant to envelop part or all of the bump.  I have not yet been able to bring myself to purchase a pair of these yet.  They look too awful.  I did try on a pair at the thrift store, to humor myself and make sure I wasn’t missing anything (along with other hideous trends that are strangely comfortable, like sports bras, Uggs, and Snuggies).  It may be a generational thing, spawned by the Britney Spears influence of hip-huggers, but I cannot cannot cannot tolerate a waistband – pregnant or not – on my waist.  I’m sure they actually stay up; if you pull the waistband of your pants up to your armpits or right below your breasts, they’d damn well better stay up.  They have the entire bump to hold onto. 

5) Hybrids.  These may take the form of elastic waist with a pouch, or yoga pants with a few extra pleats.  They may have an elastic front and regular back, or a drawstring with elastic.  Like many hybrid creations, they compromise on integrity, and come up short in function. I have not found ones that are both comfortable and stay up. 

I have special disdain for the pair of jeans I have on today.  Yet I wore them anyway, because it’s a dark, dreary morning and it’s a dress-down day at work.  They have a super-wide elastic waist (which may flip up over the belly, causing some mild sensory discomfort, but at least no Equator effect).  When I wore them inIreland, my worst issue was that my hips couldn’t hold onto the denim part, and I kept hiking them up all day.  Now that my belly bulge is, um, huge, my hips have an even bigger task fighting against gravity.  Worse than the constant drooping, though, is the combination of denim and spandex knit, an unnatural union no fashion authority should rightly ever condone (see: jeggings).  Many of us women are familiar with the weird bulge regular jeans make when we sit down; it looks like a penis has materialized within the inflexible fabric of the fly.  These pants have a teeny fly, cut-off by the swaths of spandex waistband.  This teeny fly, instead of popping out when I sit down, inverts.  The stretch fabric allows it to sink into my skin, and the weight of my belly holds it firmly in place as it digs into my soft flesh.  By the end of the day, I have a stunning red mark from the fabric of the fly imprinted below my belly.  Every time I stand up, I yank on the top of the waistband, futilely trying to pull it out of my skin. 

I had told myself I would live in lovely dresses during my entire pregnancy.  In fact, dresses are the most comfortable thing to wear.  I can’t wait for the weather to cool ever so slightly, so the sweater dresses I’ve made out of plus-size sweaters will be appropriate.  Unfortunately, I don’t have enough dresses in any season to leave the annoying pants behind.  I have a few cute sundresses, and a few warm sweater dresses, but not enough of either.  Then there’s the issue of tights/leggings.  If I thought maternity pants fought a daily struggle against gravity, it’s nothing compared to what tights and leggings go through with a belly bulge.  The high-waisted “support” hose style do stay up, if I can maneuver enough to yank them all the way up.  And then they have the Equator effect.  Other leggings are more modest in their coverage, and they tend to roll below the belly, resulting in constant tugging and immodest readjustment.  While I could get away with bare legs with my summer dresses, I can’t see my poor naked legs being exposed all winter long.

Maternity pants, why do you fail in every way conceivable?  Why are you so inadequate and ill-suited to your only task in life?  Why do I hate you yet keep pulling you on anyway?  You’re like an abuser, and I’m drawn to your attractive promises, yet you keep letting me down and beating me up. 

I hate you.  I need you.  Validate me.

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We were in Ireland as I passed the half-way point in this pregnancy.  We were, on that particular Saturday, surrounded by a bus full of mostly Australian tourists as we were herded from Emerald highlight to Emerald highlight, from sheep to cliff, from medieval town to rock wall, from green pasture to yet another green pasture.  The Japanese gentleman on our tour, reflecting on his impressions about the country, pulled out his phrasebook, thumbed purposefully, and settled on the succinct, “monotony.”  But in our hotel room that night, whatever time it truly was on the East Coast of the United States, we paused to be grateful we have made it this far, and that the babies’ growth seemed to be evident in my bulging abdomen.

My books told me I might feel kicking around 17/18 weeks, but those markers passed without anything definitively Kick feeling.  I have always felt little twinges and cramps, but attributed them to the increased size of my womb, and its resulting displacement of just about all my internal organs.  I even asked my mother what first kicks felt like, and she responded with a resoundingly noncommittal, “You’ll just know.”

My therapist asked on Friday if I’d felt anything yet, and I responded honestly in the negative.  She seemed surprised, and probed further, asking if I’d gently pushed on my belly and felt anything externally.  Well, that evening we tried to use Mr. Apron’s stethoscope to find heartbeats, without much luck, and I sat on the couch relaxing in that typical pregnant woman pose, hand resting gently on top of my belly.  I found my pulse, of course — as my circulation grows ever more impressive, I’m positively throbbing with heartbeats — but I also felt a distinctly non-rhythmic movement.  A kick for sure!  Since Friday they have not let up, having a riotous time in spurts and jolts.  They seem to particularly enjoy kicking right at the top of my belly.  I was finally able to help Mr. Apron feel it, too.  Feeling a kick, I sensed they were feeling active, so I grabbed his hand and rested it — just so — on my stomach.  Lo and behold, his pupils dilated and fixed on my belly.  He had felt it, too.

Today, my doctor confirmed that twins, and first pregnancies in general (technically, because of our miscarriage, this is my 2nd pregnancy, but my body never really stretched with our first-trimester loss, so I guess it doesn’t “count” in this sense?) will be later to feel kicks.

And there you have it.

To celebrate seeing our little 1-lb wonders on the ultrasound screen this morning, I will regale you with our celebratory breakfast, baked with the help of my sister and husband.  This is originally a banana bread, since the fetuses are the length of bananas this week.  I had previously found that this recipe converts very easily to muffins, and muffin papers mean no greasing loaf pans, nor cutting out parchment paper, so muffins it was.  I also added chocolate chips because Mr. Apron will eat anything for breakfast if it has chocolate in it.  I love this recipe as it doesn’t taste like bananas.  Many banana breads use 3-4 bananas, which I’m sure makes for a moist bread, but also a very banana-y one.  Mine only uses about 2 bananas — perfect for banana haters.

Banana Bread

 2 c. flour
1tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 c. sugar
½ c. butter
1 egg
1 c. mashed overripe banana (about 2)
5 Tbsp milk
½ c. chopped walnuts (opt.)
1 c. milk choc. chips (opt.)

 

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter.  Beat the egg slightly and mix into the creamed mixture with the bananas.  Mix in sifted ingredients until just combined.  Stir in milk and nuts/chocolate chips.  Spread batter into one greased and floured 9×5 loaf pan or scoop into 18 muffin papers.  Bake at 350 for one hour until top is brown and cracks along the top (for the loaf) or 20 minutes until toothpick tester comes out clean (for the muffins).

Cooling on the rack, not knowing what fate awaits them.

Watch out, little muffin!

Evidently, when babies get to be nineteen weeks of gestation, they turn into mangos.

One fetal representation.

Who knew, right?

Well, we know, because we compulsively research what size fruit our parasites/twinners/aliens are each week, because, clearly we have nothing better to do, even though we have cable.

In honor of the mango-esque nature of the babies, we decided, this week, to create a delicious, nutritious, apoplectic, intransigent, thoroughly fibrous smoothie.

Mangos are notoriously challenging to dissect, but, with the aid of a set of Ginsu knives, a complete mortician’s tool kit, the Jaws of Life, and an 18th Century Samurai sword belonging to one of the 47 Ronin, we were able to accomplish the task with minimal difficulty.

Skinned alive. NOT a fetal representation.

Following a recipe I stole modified from Ben & Jerry’s when I worked there one summer, I began with 8oz juice (some cran-blend).

I am juice.

I then added the mango chunks and some frozen raspberries (eliminates the need for ice).

Oooh, pwetty!

And blended it together.  Then I remembered there was a partially decaying perfectly ripe banana on the counter, and I tossed it in.

Whirrrr...

"Don't forget me or you'll get fruit flies on the counter!"

Finally, I added a few scoops of sorbet. This was how we could justify $3.50 or $4.00 at B&J’s — we used their sorbet.  It makes it super cold and smooth.

The secret ingredient.

When it was all mixed up, we poured it into the appropriate serving vessel: mixed drink classes from the 1950s.

The smoothies accompanied a delectable and eclectic breakfast.

With homemade (not our home) bagels and zucchini bread.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, the smoothies, though delicious with delicate fruity overtones, were somewhat fiber-heavy, due to the inclusion of an entire mango.  After his first yeoman’s gulp, Mr. Apron declared, with customary tact, that it was “like drinking a sweater.”

I wasn’t able to take a sip without a remark about its “cable-knit” quality.

A recipe borrowed from my preschool mentor teacher, who made this as a mid-morning snack for the preschoolers every year.  A snack that had me hooked.

1) Peel yams/sweet potatoes/whatever they have at the ACME.

2) Using the largest butcher knife/cleaver in your collection, hack into those tubers.  Cut them into bite-size chunks, or steak fry shapes, or, as Mr. Apron chose to do this time, circles.

3) Toss the chunks/fries/circles liberally with olive oil and kosher salt.

4) Spread on a cookie sheet.  Roast in the oven at 375 degrees, checking and flipping at 20 minutes.

Observe the Caramelizing Goodness

Depending on size/shape, they may take 35-45 minutes total.

5) Enjoy.  Serve with ketchup, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, or plain!

Served with a veggie quesadilla

When you read that your fetuses have approached onion size, it makes sense that your last pair of shorts are fitting only by hanging onto your hips by the narrowest of margins, drooping suggestively below the belly bump.

What do you need?  Fried food.  What better to consume on a 100 degree day?  Onion rings, made with the kitchen air-conditioner (c. 1980) doing its best to combat the golden fried heat emanating from the stove-top.   Having no ready recipe (bread some onions in some batter, fry them), I found something that used only ingredients we had on hand.  It’s a good a way as any to choose a recipe.

Onion Rings

from cooks.com

3/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. water
1 egg, beaten

Mix dry ingredients; add water and egg. Batter will be thin. Dip onion rings in the batter and deep fry.

Aside from not having a deep fryer, so the bottoms became a little discolored (not burned, just not aesthetically restaurant style), we both decided these were some of the best onion rings we had ever eaten.  The batter didn’t dry out, and, more important, it didn’t separate from the onion part entirely when we bit into it.  I hate that.  You’re left with a mouthful of onion, and an empty shell of batter, which is just not the same as having both flavors combined in one glorious bite.  I was a little skeptical of adding the egg and water to the dry ingredients, as, when I fry battered things, I’m used to dipping in the egg, then in the batter.  But it totally worked.  And only seemed to get better as the cornstarch had a chance to thicken (I’m guessing).

Here are some in-process pics to whet your appetite!

Onions, all sliced and ready for the fry-o-later.

 

Mr. Apron prepares for his duties as fry cook with a little cheese stick pre-gaming.

The appetizing batter, resembling a large bowl of baby vomit.

I dip, I drip, I pose in my apron.

Mr. Apron wields his mighty Fry Fork.

The first batch!!

 

The obligatory foodie pic, piled onto a BBQ "chicken" sandwich.

And I bet you thought it was going to be guacamole!  I thought so, too, truthfully.  I told a coworker/friend of my weekly baby bump recipe, and he, being an avid cook/baker, all but hijacked avocado week.  I’m lucky I was invited to his apartment to eat the things.  As such, I played no hand in making them, but I did get to taste.  And I am providing a recipe (though is it the right one?  who knows…).  Given the simplicity of the ingredients, I imagine one recipe is not too different from the next.

Avocado Popsicles

(from yumsugar.com)

1 large avocado
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

(He used regular milk in place of the coconut milk.  I think I would try it with coconut milk (or soy milk) next time, to cut down on the lactose issues.  But I digress.)

Using a hand mixer, blend all of the ingredients until creamy.  Fill popsicle molds with the avocado mixture and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours.

Seriously, that’s it.  I would recommend making sure you have plenty of freezer time, as we had a cracking hard time getting these suckers to release from their molds.  Here are some in-progress shots of the consumption process.

Attempt 1: Submerging the molds in hot water.

 

Attempt 2: Running the molds under hot water.A popsicle, "plated". Not shown: scraping the thing out of its mold with a knife and reassembling it on the plate.

  

A popsicle, "plated". Not shown: scraping the thing out of its mold with a knife and reassembling it on the plate.

Oh, wait. There's the knife. And a mangled popsicle.

 

Finally, preparing to enjoy!

 

I eat it.

 

 
 

Though Mr. Apron was not a tremendous fan, I quite enjoyed the creamy sweetness that was quite unexpected. 

 
Stay tuned for next week: onions!

As a member of thebump.com, I am treated not only to weekly updates on fetal development, reviews of the hottest $600 strollers, and inane messages on the chat boards (can I paint my nails when I’m pregnant?), but also to a fruit-size comparison.  Every week, I can see which fruit’s length corresponds to my fetuses’ crown –to-rump length.  And then I know what type of fruit is nesting inside me.

Last week, in honor of the twin lemons within my womb, Mr. Apron and I baked lemon nut bread.  Only, we didn’t have walnuts, and I put them in cupcake tins, so Mr. Apron could take them to work on the weekend.  They weren’t the most beautiful creations.  Instead of rising and making pretty little mounds on the top, they exploded over the edge of the tin, but with enough lemon glaze, you wouldn’t even look at their aesthetics as you let the sugary lemony goodness melt in your mouth.

This week, my parasites are the size of navel oranges.  I thought since I’m a baking sort of person, and I’m currently baking two buns in my personal oven, why not keep up with my fruit-of-the-week and inspire a confection of the week?  I may even take pictures in the future.

Thus is conceived the weekly bake-a-thon!

And no, I have not yet been offered a book deal, but I will negotiate with the right agent.