Saturday, February 16, 2013

Postpartum Dress

For the last few years, my mother has warned me that most of my wardrobe would be unsuitable for a new mother. Given that I wasn't sure if I'd ever be fortunate enough to have a child, her advice seemed more than premature. While pregnant, I thought how much fun it would be to revisit my old wardrobe after Severin's birth. To that end, I bought a few very heavily reduced items late in my pregnancy to supplement my old wardrobe ($30 skirts from Club Monaco, heavily discounted cashmere sweaters from J Crew), even though this involved guess work as I couldn't try these items on properly and had to estimate what size I'd be postpartum.

As usual, however, my mother was right. This last few weeks has passed in a blur of feed, sleep/sleeplessness and work, and the discovery that breast milk can ruin your clothes. Even though I'm barely producing enough milk, I had no clue that leaks and drips would limit my options to cotton jersey and super cheap items. Button up shirts, leggings and pajama bottoms, all those horrid stockpiled t-shirts that had faded, discoloured or just looked bad that I'd never parted with became suitable day and night time attire, often with little difference between both. I thought the baby would be the messy one but it's also me. I have already ruined one (cheap and heavily reduced) silk pleated skirt while feeding Severin, unaware that milk was flowing from more than one side. I learned a lesson that day. I used to wonder why mothers seemingly lost interest in fashion after having children and now realize that, at least for some, it's not a loss of interest but a realization that this is an intrinsically messy time. I still love clothes but it's not the best time to dress up.

Still, I'm back at work (which is insane in its own way), albeit only two days a week, and can't just live in pajamas and old t-shirts. For those days I'm trying to put together some kind of uniform that resists milk stains, allows for easy pumping access, and provides me with the style that I don't have elsewhere in my life. With my c-section site still sensitive/sporadically painful/numb, I can't wear jeans and skirts are probably easier than pants. Leggings are still decent, dark colours, patterns and colours are good, and cheaper items are my new friends. After my very last ob appointment before Severin's birth, I picked up a cheap Zara basics dress on sale (without trying it on as I knew I'd have no idea how it would fit within days) which has been useful. My Steven Alan, Rag and Bone, Acne and Madewell plaid shirts are staples but, overall, I feel that I am more restricted and less stylish than I was at 9 months pregnant. I am surprised--not complaining at all as I've rarely felt so calm. Like so much else about motherhood/pregnancy, I realise that this is a new world with its own shared knowledge. I'm happy to be introduced to this maternal wisdom, even if it is at the expense of relatively unlimited dress options.

Realistically, I doubt some items will ever come back into circulation. I've intended to prune my wardrobe for some time and as soon as time permits I will be posting some items here--shoes, dresses, jackets and blouses that I know I won't be able to wear (again--some are unworn). They deserve good homes rather than being locked in perpetual storage in my closet.


erica said...

yes to the messiness of the postpartum body! silk, cheap thin fabrics that pucker and stain, oxford shirts that become uncomfortably tight over the course of a feeding cycle, causing revealing gaps in the placket, etc., etc...

a long henley tunic over leggings with a boxy pullover to cover possible stains works best for me. also, napkins to catch drips! this is the second time around for me, and i'm still figuring it out.

Marti said...

Moya- don't purge too soon. Though it did take me some time I am back to fitting into old favorites - and I am not in a place where I could walk alot. plus you barely gained weight. I would hold on. The first few months are hard. I too learned the hard way (and ruined some things that I loved) who knew that breast milk was not drycleanable? not me. depending on how long you are breatsfeeding/pumping you should dress for comfort and shop at Zara but save teh things you love. you can be stylish and a mom. I didn't let having a baby stop me.

swinny said...

my favorite game whenever studying at bobst was (and still is, when i walk by) "hobo or nyu professor?" sooo i'm pretty sure you should just wear pajama pants to work.