Last Mother’s Day, I was edging into my third trimester. No, I didn’t have babies yet, so technically I wasn’t a mom. But I’d already been working hard: Twin pregnancy isn’t always a walk in the park!
Because my family is superstitious, we didn’t really do gifts. But if they had been inclined to honor me with gifts as a mama-to-be, here are a few things I think would have made perfect choices. And they might be just right if you need a Mother’s Day gift for pregnant wife, friend, daughter, sister — and definitely yourself!
Hey Pregnant Ladies:
I hope very much that you, like a celebrity, look Us Weekly-cover ready a month after you deliver. Looking and feeling hot and sexy as a new mom would make for a few less things to worry about during that emotional, exhausted, insane first few weeks. And I want that for you.
And maybe that will happen. But just in case it doesn’t, I’m here to tell you a couple of personal tales that I hope can prepare you, in the event that you find yourself still looking pregnant for a really long time after you deliver. (If this is news to you, sorry I’m the one to—ahem—deliver it!)
Here’s the real deal: You’re probably going to look pregnant for a while, even a long while, after delivery. Here are stories from my first three months postpartum, after delivering my full-term twins, that still make me cringe deep in my soul — the trauma may never fully fade, in fact. But now that I’ve lost all my pregnancy weight (50-plus pounds through hard, protracted work — no magic involved), I have the necessary distance (and confidence) to tell two tales from the trenches.
Last holiday season, I’d just crossed the second-trimester threshold, my pregnancy was public, and I was feeling so full of joy and promise at such a festive time of the year. (That’s us at the St. Regis Princeville in Kauaii last December — I realize it doesn’t read “holidays” per se, but it’s how we do it.)
This year, help the mama-to-be in your life celebrate such a momentous and special time. From pregnancy pampering products and services, to maternity fashion, to thoughtful ideas for the baby-on-the-way, I put together my (unscientific, but real-mom tested!) list of amazing holiday gifts for pregnant ladies. Even if—or especially if—that fab lady you’re buying for is you!
Last Thanksgiving was one for the books.
Just two days before, we’d learned I was pregnant. We figured there’d be no better time to tell our families than on a day devoted to gratitude and togetherness, and on a day when both sets of parents would be in the same room.
Because I was overall so nervous and jittery while processing the news, I didn’t want any big to-do—definitely no Thanksgiving pregnancy announcement that would be destined to go viral. I just wanted my husband to share the news unceremoniously and succinctly, so that it would be out there. I’m bad at secrets, and carrying this one for even those 60 hours felt like a burden to bear!
After a few late arrivals and a bunch of flitting around the kitchen, at last everyone was sitting down on the sofa for hors d’oeuvres at my in-laws’ house, and my husband seized the moment, blurting out: “We just want to let you all know that Alice is pregnant.”
It’s now officially three months since I delivered my twins, and alas, I’m not quite ready for my bikini Us Weekly cover. It turns out — wait for it — stars are not just like us.
While I’ll resist a tirade about the dangerous nature of our cultural body-after-baby-in-five-minutes obsession, I can say that I am fully cleared after C-section to resume most excercise (with the exception of things like crunches that could exacerbate my diastasis recti — but that will be a topic for another post). And I’m back to eating right after, shall we say, several months of ravenous appetite indulgence related to creating two human bodies inside my body. And, yes — I have a few (ahem) more pounds still to lose before I’m back at my pre-pregnancy weight.
Only thing is I’m working full time and have the two teeny humans mentioned above to look after. So there’s not the time there used to be to devote to grocery shopping, recipe hunting, cooking, counting calories, focusing on portions, and all that jazz.
So I’m back to my old standby: The Fresh Diet.
I’m eight weeks postpartum now, with enough distance from my twin pregnancy to see things a little bit more clearly. If I could, I’d love to be able to communicate with my recently pregnant self and give her a little advice based on what I know now. Today, I wrote for Parents.com a list of the things I wish I could tell her, like…:
The day I delivered my babies is both completely blurry and seared indelibly into memory.
After a long, surreal lead-up to my scheduled c-section, there was nothing left to do but deliver some twins. On July 22, at 38 weeks, we were actually sleeping when the alarm sounded at 4 a.m. For the last time, I peeled my enormously pregnant body from the bed and got in the shower, following with my full hair and makeup routine. My husband, David, couldn’t understand why I would bother, but of course I knew 1) there would be pictures! And 2) it might be a very long time before I managed such a feat again.
For the last time as a family of two, we left the house with our bags packed. It was a warm, beautiful early morning, and we snapped a picture of the moon over our house. Minutes later, we arrived at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where we had our pick of prime parking spaces at 5 a.m. — a dream for a Los Angeleno, and an auspicious beginning to a big day! I noticed a sign that advertised discounted parking at a weekly rate, and as I shuffled into the hospital, I asked the parking attendant how to get the weekly pass, which would save us $10 over the course of our four-day stay. David couldn’t believe I found the energy to focus on such a pursuit, but I reminded him that every dollar counts with two babies on the way! And I’m nothing if not a hustler for a great bargain.
We made our way inside to check in for labor and delivery, at the same desk we had seen on our maternity ward tour when the reality of this day seemed infinitely far off — as if it were actually on another planet instead of just weeks away. This time, it was we who were checking into the hospital to deliver babies, and it was still too enormous to process.
Shortly after David and I started dating, we went on a camping trip to Big Sur with friends. There was probably alcohol involved when we ended up doing an impassioned fireside a capella duet to LL Cool J’s “Around the Way Girl.” My girl Melissa said, “Man, you dorks were made for each other.”
And the rest is history, a marriage built on the fundamentals of, among a few other key things, a shared love of ’90s hip hop. Appropriately, on our wedding day, my MOH sister Elisabeth and bestie bridesmaid Avril kicked off their shoes and did an epic rap in lieu of a toast to MC Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two,” with new lyrics just for us. *Tears.* It was the best. (Note to self: Launch retroactive viral video campaign. First dig up video.)
Four years later, now that we’re expecting twins — guess what? The “It Takes Two” theme works equally well as a celebratory anthem! (Twins! Two?! Get it?) So the wedding party crew was back at it as hostesses behind an amazing ’90s hip hop baby shower theme.
Behold some of the photographic highlights from the day:
One of the very best things about travel is seeing something you’ve never seen before. How many times in our adult lives do we really get to do that on a given day? (That’s one reason David and I have a strict no-repeating-country-stamps-in-the-same-passport policy.*)
Still, the lure of a perfect beach is a tough thing for me to resist, and so, if left to my own devices I might never have pulled myself away from the Big Island of Hawaii’s Kona coast, were it not for the hospitality of the Volcano Village Lodge up near Volcanoes National Park, which hosted us for two nights of our last and final (?!) babymoon.
After dragging ourselves away from the Four Seasons Hualalai‘s spectacular pools and beaches, we set off for the drive to the lodge, without knowing much of what we’d find. Although we were told to plan for about three and a half hours, we easily made the drive in under two and a half. (I kind of love how Hawaiians give you estimates based on island time — I feel like in L.A., we’d say instead, in a moment of desperate wishful thinking, “Leave an hour if there’s no traffic,” and then it would take you that long just to execute your first left turn.)
What are your thoughts on maternity photography?
Hoo-boy, I have seen some hokey-ass things that I did not want to replicate — weird props, blowing fans, heart-shaped hands, body paint (?), airbrushed insets a la Sears (?!), belly kissing (?!?). But given we’re expecting two babies, I am thinking of this pregnancy as a one-shot deal if all goes well. That means I have no more than 10 more weeks to be pregnant left in this lifetime. (I will miss the cutting in bathroom lines indiscriminately, but not the back pain). And I felt we should document this moment for posterity.
Hubby was very eh on the matter of a maternity photo shoot, and I get that. I do. But that’s not to say I ever squandered a Kodak moment in this life either. (Have you met me?) Lucky for us, we know one of the most talented photographers in town — Sean Twomey over at 2Me Studios — who happens to be a low-key, fuss-free pleasure to work with. So we set aside a Saturday morning on a gorgeous day for a Los Angeles maternity photography shoot that really felt like hanging out in the park among friends with no pressure and no wild expectations.