Maternity Monday: Shirred Maternity Dress

This maternity dress by Ingrid & Isabel has been around for years, and I highly recommend it. We’re featuring it today in the plum, but it also comes in black, gray, navy, and other colors. The boatneck and long sleeves and ruching make for a classic style, and this will definitely stick around for multiple pregnancies. I think you can wear it while pregnant, during postpartum, and possibly even beyond. It comes in sizes XS–L. Shirred Maternity Dress

Two plus-size options are this long-sleeved dress and this three-quarter-sleeved dress from Pink Blush Maternity.

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Building a maternity wardrobe for work? Check out our page with more suggestions along both classic and trendy/seasonal lines.

Comments

  1. Solo Parenting says:

    Calling solo parents — I see a lot of y’all commenting, and I was hoping I could string together your advice. I solo parent my infant pretty much every week day. So what are your biggest time-saving and/or solo-parenting hacks? Also, do you have a life outside work? I’m currently in a wonderful baby phase where baby is fun and sleeps from 6:30 pm-7:30 am (still eating once or twice), but being the solo parent (with no local family) means I’m stuck in the house all night too tired to do anything productive, so I find myself watching Netflix pretty much every night. I used to be involved in so much and make so much of my week nights, so this is new, and honestly pretty boring.

    • Anonanonanon says:

      I “solo parented” (wasn’t technically single but a had a deployed spouse) when mine was 0-12 months, then became a truly single parent when mine was 3. I found many small joys from my quiet evenings alone, and yes many of them involved netflix. I used to focus on enjoying:
      -Treat yoself. Make yourself a fancy cheese plate and have that and crackers for dinner, who cares? You don’t have to cook if you don’t feel like it! That’s awesome!
      -Embrace “trashy” TV. It’s not so bad, and it’s a great way to turn off your brain at the end of the day.
      -Are friends willing to come to your place? If your baby goes to bed at 6:30 and generally stays asleep a few hours, would people be willing to come over in comfy clothes and watch a movie as a group with cheese and wine or whatever? I found people were pretty willing to do that when my kiddo was younger, as they either A. had kids of their own and wanted out of the house or B. were young and trying to save money and appreciated an opportunity to socialize that didn’t include a restaurant bill/bar tab
      -Enjoy reading books without having to explain or justify what you’re reading, whether it’s work-related or just a mindless novel. Speaking of reading, can you host a book club? Or even start one that meets monthly? Can you find a baby sitter one night a month if the hosts rotate hosting the book club?
      -Embrace the fact you’re trapped in the house and get some chores out of the way in the evenings. Do things like laundry, making the grocery list, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. on those quiet weeknights. No, it’s not fun, but it frees up your weekend time!

      • Legally Brunette says:

        – + 1 inviting a friend/neighbor over. Order takeout, DON’T cook. Most friends are really happy to get these weeknight invitations, low key and fun.

        – consider working out a few evenings a week. I do home videos like Fitness Blender and find them challenging and fun.

        – Listen to all the podcasts. When I do the dishes/fold laundry I am usually listening to On Point, The Longest Shortest Time, or this American Life. So many good podcasts nowadays!

    • Clementine says:

      Hi Friend! I solo parent for 2-3 months at a time, then my husband is home for 2-3 months and basically a SAHD. I work too much but somehow manage to hold it all together. My biggest pro-tip I do is I cook dinner in the mornings or the night before so that when we get home, dinner can be on the table in 5 minutes.

      I’ve also simplified my wardrobe so I can get dressed in less than 5 minutes. As to what to do when the baby was sleeping, my solutions were always to just do more work, get all the housework done so you can enjoy your weekends, and if I was feeling crazy to pick up a crafty hobby.

      I do end up just wanting to veg out and watch netflix, but I got a (used) treadmill so I make myself go walk on the treadmill while watching at least one of those shows. It gets me some exercise and helps me relax.

      My job is kind of all-consuming, but I do try and have someone over once or twice a week to just hang out and watch a show or play a board game with. In my dream world where I get out of work before 5, I would feed kiddo a picnic dinner and we would go to the park or the rec center on week nights, but that’s still a pipe dream.

      • Anon in NYC says:

        I 100% agree about making dinner as quick as possible on weeknights. I like to reheat leftovers for my daughter so I can get dinner on the table within minutes of getting home.

        I rarely enjoy cooking for just myself, so when I know my husband is going to travel, I try to do some batch cooking and/or plan meals that are low-to-no cook.

    • Allie says:

      This is a very small tip, but when my husband travels for work I listen to podcasts while doing all my evening chores. It really helps it not feel like so much of a slog for me.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is a huge tip! I love this one .

        Also, I had friends over for a glass of wine after bedtime. Helped make me feel less isolated.

        With my second, I felt more comfortable asking a local high school kid to come sit in my living room after betdtime and still get out and about. Wish I would have done this with #1.

      • NonMom says:

        Totally agree! Chores go much faster when I am listening to an audio book or podcast.

    • I solo parent for four days straight each week. I’m not a good one to give advice. That first year was just about survival for me. I watched every episode of Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl for Kid #1 and every episode of Big Bang Theory for Kid #2.

      Once they each turned one, I had energy in the evenings again. Then I could do what Anonanonanon says. The two biggest for me were 1) investing in exercise equipment at home, so I could still get a workout in and 2) joining two book clubs. Now I’m forced to read two books each month (Overdrive through my library is my friend) so I spend my nights with tea and a book, which feels much more indulgent than chips and Netflix. I volunteer for more than my share of hosting nights, just to cut down on babysitter expense. But still, two nights a month to be out past dark all by myself is pretty luxurious right now. Totally worth the $50.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you’re bored, maybe start a “project” like reading a series of books, or books about a topic you’ve always been curious about. Maybe pick up a low key craft, like knitting? If you don’t want to be sitting, consider baking or cooking while listening to podcasts. You could get into baking bread!

      My kid goes to sleep at 8:30 and I go to sleep at 9:30 so I’m living vicariously through you :)

    • I just finished a month of solo parenting. Once a week I had a young neighbour come over after bedtime to basically sit, listen for kiddo trouble and read, so I could go for a run. Sometimes we’d have a weeknight dinner and playdate with a neighbour whose kid went to the same daycare (our daycare is really near home).

      Also, have spouse batch-cook on weekends so that you don’t need to do much cooking during the week. Before he left, my husband prepped some batches of stew et.c. – I supplemented these with other dinners because I like variety, but it was nice to be able to pull something out of the freezer if I wanted to.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        If you prepare batches of food in advance but prefer variety on a day-to-day basis, make sure to freeze them in one-meal servings! I made the mistake a few times of freezing a whole batch of beef stew in one container….and then felt like I had to eat all of it in 48 hours…

  2. Rainbow Hair says:

    Today I’m taking my 2yo to the heart doctor. It’s a heart murmur and I know it’s ‘probably nothing’ but I’m still super anxious. I’m also just worried about the experience — will the doctor be nice to her (and me?!), will it be scary, why is the appointment so darn long?

    Any insights?

    • avocado says:

      No insights to offer, just sending good wishes and hopes that everything goes as well as it possibly can.

    • Anonymous says:

      My kiddo had a heart murmur and had it checked out. His is very mild and is not a concern. The whole thing was reassuring. Hope that’s the case for you as well.

      I assume it’s a pediatric cardiologist? Ours was very nice and the office was really set up to be as soothing as possible for babies and little ones (though of course my 1 yo cried the whole time anyway).

      The appointment is probably so long because there are several steps. I am vague and my terminology is prob not correct but medical tech does EKG or something using small electrodes that tape on, then then they did heart sonogram / scan, then doctor looks at the test results and discusses with us.

    • Frozen Peach says:

      We went through this about a year ago and it was totally benign. Scary, I know, but sending you mojo!!

    • Hugs!! I have no personal experience but my cousin’s wee one had a cardiologist and heart surgery at birth. They LOVED her and the office was wonderful. They still send her thank you cards on the baby’s birthday. I am sure they are highly skilled at making it a less terrifying experience for everyone!

    • Rainbow Hair says:

      Thank you so much! Yes, it’s a pediatric cardiologist, out of a well-regarded children’s hospital, so I’m cautiously optimistic about the vibe. Only a few hours left to fret!

    • bluefield says:

      I had a heart murmur that was found when I was two. My mom promptly forgot about it and never mentioned it to me, and I have experienced absolutely no ill effects during childhood and into adulthood. I only found out about it at age 22 when my gynecologist mentioned that she heard it. Since then I think it’s resolved since it didn’t show up on a recent EKG.

    • my kids have murmurs says:

      My kids have murmurs and we had to do this. The ultrasound tech was awesome with my kids. She let them hold the wand and “guide it” with her, which they loved as babies. They were mesmerized by the screens and kid decoration in the room.

      Make sure to get a copy of the records and keep them. Even benign murmurs will be heard at every appointment by every doc who listens to heart/lungs, and you want to be able to show that it’s been looked at and move on!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My two and a half year old has started waking up crying in the middle of the night. It doesn’t happen every night. Maybe once or twice a week. And it’s not a night terror. She’s fully aware of what is happening.

    I usually go in and pick her up and rock her. Then she goes back in her crib and a rub her back until she’s no longer upset and I can leave. But this is starting to stretch longer and longer. Last night it took 35 minutes. I also have a three month old, so sleep is very precious right now!

    Any suggestions? Is this just a phase we need to ride out?

    I should mention that my husband is totally willing to be the one to go in her room, but she of course only wants her (sleep deprived) mommy.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      My two cents – send in dad. It may cut off the wake ups. My kiddo gets into sleep habits that get bigger and bigger; first one song, then two, then two songs and rocking, then two song and rocking and a story…etc. The only way to prune it back is to cut it off completely. Yeah, she cries, but she’s fine.

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Um, are you me? This is my life.

      So, at first we tried to pick her up and console her. That extended everything. Every time we would put her down asleep, she would wake up and start crying again. She would be fully asleep after an hour, and we’d leave the room, get into bed, and she’d start crying again. Eventually we got to a point where we would just take a comforter into her bedroom and sleep in the glider for the rest of the night, and it was every.single.night. She stops crying the second you walk into her room.

      Recently (past 2-3 months), we realized that we can go into her room (immediately stops crying), put her blanket on it, tell her that we love her and that we’ll see her in the morning when she wakes up. It helps. It’s not foolproof. She woke up at 5 am and 5:30 am this morning. Sometimes this will happen once a night, other times it’s 3x in one night. Then it’ll be days before it happens again. There is no rhyme or reason as far as I can tell. Right now I’m gritting my teeth and riding it out.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have nothing to back this up (and won’t Google it b/c I don’t want to know I’m wrong), but I think there is a sleep regression at 2.5 yrs. My second just came out of it, and many of my friends seemed to experience something similar. I don’t have a silver bullet– we just sort of gutted through, but if I had to guess, I think it correlates with a separation anxiety milestone? My 2.5 yr old was super clingy during this time, and is just now going back to not needing to be carried all. the. time.

      I guess my only advice is to try – recognizing how hard it is – to add extra quality time at night before bedtime? Do the 10 minute thing where you totally engage with her for 10 minutes in an activity of her choice, uninterrupted by phone/other kids, just before bedtime?

      • Anonymous says:

        OH, and this is when our Okay to Wake clock really, really, really came in handy. It was not really helpful before this age, but we were able to point to the clock and reiterate that it wasn’t wake up time yet. Same with the above comments — this wasn’t happening every night, but sometimes three times a night. No rhyme or reason. We avoided staying in his room by coming up with a strategy of tucking him in with his favorite “warm” blanket. We’d snuggle him in really well, and then tell him we love him, and are at least able to walk out of the room. He also became really afraid of spiders during this time (thanks Trolls!, and husband for letting him watch it…), and so we would “spray” for spiders before bedtime using the Method cleaner. Also helped.

      • YES to sleep regression at 2.5 years. I’ll go further out on the limb and say diagnosis is due to nightmares which is developmentally appropriate. Observed it with both my children.

    • AwayEmily says:

      When this started happening with us, I made sure to talk to her each night about the possibility of waking up,
      and that that was totally normal and nothing to be nervous about (something along the lines of “you might wake up in the middle of the night, and that’s okay! You can get cozy with your blanket and your Foxy [her lovey] and lie there and think about whatever you want until you fall back asleep. Mama and Dada will come get you in the morning when your clock turns green.”)

      Doing this correlated with a reduction of nighttime crying — I’m not going to assert a causal relationship because toddler sleep is such a mystery and every kid is so different, but I figured I’d offer it just in case since it’s a fairly painless intervention and probably can’t hurt.

      Good luck — sometimes I think these toddler regressions are emotionally worse on us than the newborn days because they seem so RANDOM.

    • LegalMomma says:

      2.5 year old here as well and yes, she is doing the exact same thing (except for her it is at bedtime and if she wakes up in the middle of the night). We are right in the middle of it. The fun part for us is that she had to be moved out of the crib as she was literally flinging herself out of it, and she can open her bedroom door. If you try to tell her its time to go to sleep/lie in her bed/have quiet time and then try to leave the room she absolutely loses it. Bedtime has become a three hour routine (that only Dad can do).

      I just got “permission” from the ped today to go ahead and install a lock and lock her in the room so that she can’t get out and then do a modified cry-it out type approach. The other thing that I am hoping will work is that DH left this morning for a 2 week work trip – so we are going cold turkey tonight on no Dad for the 3 hour bedtime routine. I am so planning on just not getting any sleep tonight.

    • Bonnie says:

      Kids’ imaginations really develop during this age. She could just be having nightmares. Try to ask her about it during the day. If that is it, you can get “monster spray,” look under the bed, etc., to help.

    • Jeffiner says:

      My almost 3 year old finally finished this stage (knock on wood). There is definitely a 2.5 year old sleep regression, and for us it was the worst one. We got an Ok to Wake clock, and that helped some. We really just had to power through though, escorting her back to bed each night over and over. Not going to lie, some nights we gave in and let her sleep with us. She eventually just did it less and less and got through it.

      • Same. Mine did this around age 3, which lucky for us, coincided with having a 3 month old. I was way too tired to care and let her sleep in our bed most of the time. Plus, I spent half the night in the nursery (which had a bad), so she just slept with DH.

        We weaned her off of it and once we were less sleep deprived started walking her back into her bed, and laying there.

        We transitioned from a crib to a bed around 22 months, though, so I don’t know how this plays out in a crib. Have you thought about maybe trying a bed? Could be insane, could be crazy enough to work and break the cycle. “big girls stay in bed all night…”

  4. Pregnant anon says:

    Tips for hiding morning sickness at work? Or from friends/family? the other week some colleagues were discussing pregnancy and i stupidly shared how my mother was the sickest person ever during her pregnancy throwing up multiple times a day, and now I am nervous that as soon as they see or hear me sick they will assume i’m pregnant. granted, i’ve been married for a number of years and am in my 30s, so I’m sure on some level they would suspect that anyway. I’m 7 weeks tomorrow and not quite ready for anyone to know. my in-laws are also coming to visit in a few weeks for the weekend and we do not want to tell them until the 12 week testing is done because they are the worst secret keepers on the face of the earth

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Soo…do you have risk factors that make the 12 week tests relevant? Are you throwing up regularly? Because I remember thinking I “had” to wait for some arbitrary week count, and….there is no such rule. If you’re really sick and throwing up a lot, you need to tell people at work so you can work from home, excuse yourself from meetings, etc. I would absolutely not have been able to hide a week 10 pregnancy from houseguests; I was showing, I couldn’t drink alcohol, I had the nose of a bloodhound and could not tolerate most smells, I had weird cravings. It would have been obvious. I told family closer to 6 weeks, and should have told work by 10 weeks but waited until 14 weeks when everyone knew without me telling.

      • Pregnant anon says:

        I am pregnant with twins and previously miscarried, so would really prefer to keep it quiet. I would also hate to tell people I’m pregnant with twins and then if something happened to one of them to have to share all of that if we aren’t ready, etc.

        We also have some friends and family we are seeing in December and we really want the opportunity to tell them in-person (we live far from most family/friends) and we don’t trust my in-laws not to spill the beans before then. Fortunately, they are staying at a hotel when they visit, but we will eat all meals with them. of course we now kind of wish they’d planned their visit for a different time, but we can’t change it now.

        • Anonymous says:

          Your reasoning totally makes sense — but I still doubt people will pick it up at work. People have their heads in their own lives so much, and it’s really unlikely they will know.

          For in-laws — if this wouldn’t arose suspicion, you can tell the waiter ahead of time that you are hiding a pregnancy, and would like mock tails instead of coctails. But, mine would guess, so I’d play the sick card, and skip dinners. Join activities during the day, and then be too ill (which is probably not untrue) to join for dinners.

          • Blueberry says:

            Lol, much better strategy for the waiters than what I tried to do. My approach was to tell the restaurant ahead of time for a tasting menu, so they wouldn’t bring out stuff pregnant people can’t eat. I neglected to mention the pregnancy was a secret, so when the poor waiter came out to go over the menu with us, he asked if there were any food restrictions besides the pregnancy… Surprise, family!

        • NewMomAnon says:

          Ahh, that makes sense. In that case…have your husband run interference with the in laws. Maybe you magically develop a stomach bug or you’re on “antibiotics” that make it impossible to drink and make you sick to your stomach.

          As for work – unless you’re throwing up a lot or getting big really fast, people probably aren’t going to notice. I was very small pre-pregnancy and gained a lot of weight early on (thanks thyroid!), so I was clearly showing by 10-12 weeks.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with all of this — but want to add that if you still want to keep it to yourselves, people are SO LESS perceptive than we give them credit for. It will feel so obvious to you, and all but your closest friends will pick up on it. My best work buddy figured it out the first time b/c I was (obviously) not drinking at an event where the two of us (always) drank together. The second time I was in a different job where socializing wasn’t as much a part of the culture, and my very closest work buddy had no clue. For #2, I was basically sleeping on my office floor and walking by her office every time I had to vomit. Oh, and I totally showed at like 5 weeks with #2. She still didn’t pick up on it. I highly doubt your co-workers would remember your comment, and connect it to your pregnancy.

        For the in-laws, it’s a tougher call. My in-laws would have known b/c we always drink wine together. If you’d prefer they not know, you can definitely get the “flu” when they are present.

    • Blueberry says:

      Not really a tip, but people are much less perceptive about this than you would think. A partner was surprised to learn of my pregnancy when I told him I wouldn’t be available in December because I would be on maternity leave. I was like 6 months pregnant at the time, and showing every one of them. Unless you are really, really sick and throwing up all the time–in which case you might want to tell them anyway–your secret is probably safe.

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        So empowering to realize how little attention people pay to you — I had rainbow colored hair for six months and no one at work noticed!

        • Blueberry says:

          Totally. Except for my secretary, who, when I told her the news, told me she thought I had been looking tired and broken out, but that now I looked much better… ah, thanks?

      • Except the older ladies at work. The women in their 50s and 60s can smell a pregnancy a mile away.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you actually sick? My mother threw up every day for 3 months when she was pregnant with me, and I literally did not throw up once. So you might not be sick just because your mother was.
      But agree with advice above that if you are really sick (with nausea, fatigue, whatever) to the extent it’s interfering with your performance, it probably makes sense to share before 12 weeks so people understand why your performance is suffering. If you’re performing up to par, I don’t think you owe anyone an explanation even if you’re visibly sick and/or pregnant. I told at 16 weeks and everybody already knew by my changing body (the “belly” was actually all bloat…I was smaller at 20 weeks than 10 weeks, but whatever). I don’t really care if people thought it was weird that I waited until after I was showing. I didn’t want to announce and then have to announce a miscarriage, so I was more comfortable waiting until I’d heard the heartbeat at the 14 week appointment, and then I was traveling for a couple weeks. We also did not tell family until after the 14 week appointment, even though I saw my in-laws at 10 weeks and my parents at 12 weeks. I’m a really private person and it would have been a relief to not have to tell anyone except my husband if I’d lost the baby between 8-14 weeks.

    • For the in-laws part:

      Figure out what helps your sickness. Do Cheez-its or Ginger Ale or Wheat Thins help? If so, have those out all the time as an “appetizer” so you can grab some handfuls to get you through each meal. If you drink with them, have a “new drink” that you make like a Moscow Mule, that involves heavy ginger ale and minimal alcohol (or none for you).

      You can enlist your DH to help with deception. Drink a beer, but have him fill the bottle with water instead and hand it to you. (He can do this in the bathroom.) Nurse your wine, and switch glasses with him at a certain point. Have him ask you to look for something in the bedroom to give you cover to disappear to be sick for a while “Oh, better go find those X for Hubby!”

      For the work part:
      Most aren’t perceptive, but you can always use “Gee, I think I’m coming down with something. This darn season change gets me every year!” People are sneezing and coughing and such in my office already, just act like you need to blow your nose and head to the bathroom. Wonder out loud about hay fever and the fall. Talk about a recent trip your DH took and how he’s sicker than a dog, must have picked something up. Those sprinkled casually throughout the upcoming weeks will get you through another month or two.

    • 2 Cents says:

      I’m week 15 and didn’t tell people at work till two weeks ago — after literally 9 weeks straight of being sick at work. I thought it was *so* obvious, but people had no idea. Fortunately, at my office, if you tell people you’re feeling under the weather, they don’t press much further. As for making it through the day, I (am still) ate a lot of crackers, drank super cold water, ate in my car to avoid lunchroom smells, and just took it easy on myself. I told my immediate boss, knowing he wouldn’t tell a soul, mostly because of all the doctor’s appointments that were cropping up.

    • AwayEmily says:

      Nobody notices anything. I just announced my pregnancy to a bunch of my college students and they were like “WHOA REALLY??? We had no idea!!!” They have been seeing me twice a week for the past three months, and I am in the third trimester of my second pregnancy, so I’m not exactly lithe and elfin. Also a colleague offered me a very strong mojito when I was 25 weeks pregnant and straight-up wearing maternity clothes. I wasn’t even keeping it a secret, he was just obtuse. So yeah, if it’s any comfort, most people won’t notice. The ones who do will probably be other women who’ve had children in the last few years (because they are more attuned to the signs), but luckily they are also usually the ones who know better than to say anything.

      • Rainbow Hair says:

        OMG this reminds me of how I was at an Xmas party EIGHT MONTHS pregnant, in a form-fitting dress, looking like I was carrying a basketball, and so many people kept offering me drinks. It was so surreal.

        • Maddie Ross says:

          I might be wrong about this, but I kinda think too that some people lately (like within the last few years) go overboard with being “cool” about drinking in moderation during your pregnancy being “your choice.” I’ve also had people offer me alcoholic drinks while clearly pregnant in the recent past and I think they are doing so in the vein of acting (whether real or just an act) super cool with it being my body, my choice.

          • AwayEmily says:

            I agree, though I have to say I really like this trend (whether or not it is an act or real). Sometimes I do want to have a few sips, and if even if I don’t, I want it to be my choice. Either way, I think any step — however small — towards other people not policing women’s bodies is pretty great.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fellow mom of twins here, so I totally get your not wanting to announce early. I agree with the PPs that nobody will notice. I was throwing up in my office bathroom and wearing jeans with a visible belly band before I announced at work, and everyone was surprised. If meals with your in laws involve drinking, just accept a drink and take a fake sip or two. No need for an elaborate ruse. Sorry you’re feeling sick, 1st tri is the worst.

    • Nothing to share but I’m 7 weeks too!

  5. This girl is on fire... says:

    Moms, could use a little support. My life has crumbled around my ears in the last few weeks. Last week I ended up taking a week of unplanned vacation because we discovered that my brother-in-law molested my 2.5 year old during a family vacation (she told us, plain as day– and there are lots of other red flags) and because I had to check my husband into a mental hospital for undiagnosed PTSD/possible bipolar. I did the rounds of CPS reporting and law enforcement and pediatrician and getting started with therapy intake for kiddo on my own after getting husband settled.

    Today is my first day back at work. I’m our family’s sole breadwinner and my job is pretty high-stress/fast-paced. So far my team and my clients have been amazingly supportive– but I feel like I survived a nuclear attack and am wandering around giving off radiation.

    I’m not sure what I’m asking for, except that I know others of you have survived similar “life burning down all at once” events. I welcome advice about maintaining in the workplace most of all– my manager knows what’s going on, and I have told most of my colleagues about the kid stuff. That said, I have had several other major personal issues (health stuff) this year, and I’m starting to feel like Calamity Jane to my childless, unmarried boss in her late forties. It’s hard not to look over my shoulder a lot.

    It’s looking like my husband will be coming home in the next few days to do an outpatient program for a while– can anyone relate? Any advice for supporting a spouse when they come home from a mental facility? This one is new to me. I’m feeling all the feelings– concern, gratitude he’s finally getting the help he needs, fear things will go back to the way they were, wanting to be supportive, anger at being left to manage this whole kid situation as a solo parent, and, oddly enough, concern that I may not want to stay with my spouse. This may have been the thing that broke me– having to dig deeper into my well of personal reserves, buck up, and handle ALL THE SHIT alone. I am telling myself those are normal feelings and I shouldn’t worry too much about them. I just want someone to take care of me for a change.

    • Been there too. says:

      I saw your shortened message yesterday, and this morning I went back to find the longer message. I have not been in your exact shoes or been in your particular fire, but I have had my world come burning down around me in one swoop. Like you, I was/am the primary breadwinner and was left standing and looking around with my heart hurting and just wondering how I was going to survive and help the people around me. I wish I could step through the internet and give you a hug. What you are going through is so very hard, and you are taking care of so many people and logistics. You are being asked more than is fair. It feels very lonely (especially when you are only telling half the story at work), but you are not alone.

      (My story: My husband had long suffered from severe depression but came home from therapy one Saturday to tell me that he had a plan, intent and desire to end his life and would follow through at the next opportunity and maybe it was time to go inpatient. We have two small children, and had just fired our nanny for lying to us about where and what she was doing with the kids. My husband had two stays inpatient at a mental health facility, which was about 5 weeks inpatient over 2 months. The memory of checking my husband into a mental health facility is not something that will soon leave my mind.)

      First, be gentle with yourself. You do not need to figure “it” all out today or tomorrow or even in the next two years. I never understood the whole “one day at a time” thing until my world crashing down. Seriously, just do what has to be done today. And all the things do not need to be done today — that goes for work and home. I’m willing to guess that if you put in 50-75% at work for two months, no one would notice. At work, make very detailed lists of what needs to be done, and check things off as you go. If you have to leave work at a moment’s notice for any reason or you randomly fall asleep while staring at a contract, you will be able to see where you were in a project.

      Second, get help. If you do not already, find a therapist. I know it can feel like squeezing in one more appointment is impossible, but it is so important to have that support today and as the dust settles down the road. If you have the means, throw money at everything/outsource: order food (meal delivery service), cleaning, pet care, errands. Accept any and all help that is offered.

      Third, take care of yourself. Self-care is not a luxury now (or ever but especially now). Do whatever kind of exercise makes you happy. I ran and pounding the pavement when I just wanted to scream felt so good. Sleep when/if you can. Make sure you are eating.

      Finally, yes, I can relate to your feelings about your husband, the uncertainty, the relief at him getting help, and oh! the anger, the resentment of having to dig deep when you feel so very depleted. I am not a mental health professional, but from personal experience, your feelings sound reasonable. If you want to take this conversation offline, I can share more, listen, or just hear what is going on. Hang in there.

    • Spirograph says:

      I also came back to look this morning, and I know this is no help at all, but my heart goes out to you and your family. I have a 2.5 year old daughter, and I can only imagine how you must be hurting for her. Take care of yourself. Your husband and your daughter are both lucky to have such a strong woman in their lives.

  6. I posted last week about maybe being pregnant with a 3rd. Follow up: I finally stopped living in denial and took a test this weekend after going to bed at 8pm and waking up exhausted and feeling like I was going to lose my lunch.

    Baby #3 due sometime May-June. I’ll have to wait for the ultrasound for dating since I really don’t know at this point when my last period was, probably early sept.

    I spent the weekend freaking out about our vehicle situation (3 car seats + a spare for play dates?!?! ), and our bedroom situation (do we give up our office/guest room and give each kid their own? Make them share?), and the logistics of bringing 3 kids *anywhere* much less to 2-3 care situations every day!

    But…as DH pointed out, we’ll be done with diapers and college one year sooner than we originally planned ;).

    3 under 5? Bring it on…..(excuse me as I vomit).

    • AwayEmily says:

      CONGRATS!!!

    • Clementine says:

      Congrats! It’ll be great.

      You’ve got time to figure it out, so chill out and take care of yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congrats!

    • Anon in NYC says:

      Congratulations!

    • Spirograph says:

      Congratulations!

      And as you might know if you’ve been reading here for a while, I have three under 5, and I’m surviving so far. It’s actually going pretty well now that the baby is over a year (I’m not going to sugar-coat, the first 6-9 months were tough). I have thoughts on all the things, but you have MONTHS to figure this out, so don’t even worry about any of it yet. The one thing I will say is: get a minivan. Seriously. We got ours a month or two before #3 was due, and after a week I was just wondering why I hadn’t done it sooner.

    • Artemis says:

      CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!

      I have three who are now 7, 5, and 2. You CAN find 3 car seats to fit, minivan or not (I don’t have one). Your kids CAN survive sharing a room (two of mine do). You CAN learn how to bring 3 kids places (I mean, it will be kinda crazy, but you’ll learn) and you CAN survive 2-3 drop-offs and pick-ups until you miraculously don’t have to anymore (I’m only a year away from having only 1 school for all 3, I can smell the victory).

      Take care of yourself, and ask here when you’re ready for help!

      Congratulations again.

      • Thanks :) We can actually already fit 3 carseats in our SUV, but my panic came thinking of playdates, which my 4 y/o has just started to really get into and love. We often take a friend home from preschool (which is how I know 3 seats fit!). So then I started googling and it turns out we can permanently remove the “fold-down” seat in our 2nd row to make the 3rd row of seats accessible as if it were a minivan. I know intuitively that a minivan is the way to go (I had one growing up in our family of 6!), but….I just love my SUV.

        I love my car, and it’s 7 years old with another couple of good years on it. I’d hate to trade it in because we *have* to for 3 kiddos, and just let it do it’s thing until we’re ready for our next car. My husband’s sports coupe, however, is never going to carry us all. Funny how that works.

    • Thisperson1 says:

      Yay! Congratulations!

  7. Toddler Proofing says:

    Toddler can now unlock our front and back doors. Front door is standard deadbolt and back door is a sliding door with a flimsy flip lock. We also have a piece of wood that prevents the sliding door from opening – toddler can lift this alone, and has tried to go outside a few times (while we were present in the room, but still).

    Is there a good site that shows how to toddler proof (up to, say, age 5 or 6?) various doors? We will eventually also need to proof the door to our garage (standard knob, no deadbolt).

    Anyone have product advice? Thanks.

  8. Am I a jerk? says:

    Please tell me if I was out of line and, if so, how I can make it right. At the tail end of a cold going around her daycare class, my kid (10 months old) came down with a horrible stomach bug last week that ripped through her daycare class. My husband and I both got it on Friday night and spent the weekend feeling so beyond miserable. Like, trading off who had the baby so the other could go throw up. I got her into daycare this AM and the teacher who was there was clearly quite sick with a cold (had been out a few days the past week) and I didn’t see any hand sanitizer in the room in my admittedly quick glance. I agonized and then sent a message saying that I trusted them completely but for my own peace of mind and because the past weekend had been so completely awful for us, I had to ask them to please make sure that they were using lots of sanitizer etc so the teacher wouldn’t pass her cold to the kids. We then got an email from the lead teacher saying that 1) one of the kids in the class has hand foot mouth disease and that we should be on the lookout for symptoms, and 2) what read to me as a very defensive paragraph about how “there has been some concern” about the first teacher’s sickness and they of course take all precautions all the time.

    I responded immediately, thanking them for letting us know about the HFM and apologizing/explaining again why I’d asked about hand hygiene. I haven’t heard back. Do I need to mention it at pickup/continue to feel guilty/apologize again? We really love the daycare and the teachers, and my kid is so happy there. But the thought of us all getting a cold bad enough to keep a teacher out of work for two workdays and then a weekend and STILL super sick on Monday, when my kid is still not eating after her stomach bug (or maybe it’s because she has HFM, sigh) made me panic.

  9. Bonnie says:

    Just wanted to whine about all of the school closure days in our district. With both of us working, it is so hard to find care for a 4 year old and the day camps that do take younger kids are $80-100 a day.

    • anne-on says:

      This is when we swapped to an au pair, in retrospect daycare was a breeze. If you have the space (and the personality for it) it makes summers and holidays SO MUCH easier.

    • Artemis says:

      Two thoughts, although you’ve probably already checked them out:
      1. Do you have a YMCA in your area? Mine has a very cost-effective school closure program, day camp for 3 and up, for just these kinds of days and it is not as expensive as you stated!
      2. Did your 4 year old go to daycare before PreK? Can you make an arrangement with his or her former daycare for drop-in days if you liked the daycare? I had to do this for my oldest a few times in PreK and K. He was one of the oldest ones there but it was familiar and the teachers loved seeing him again.

      Also, I hear your whine. It sucks.

      • Bonnie says:

        YMCA doesn’t take kids under 5 and his daycare is at capacity. Ugh. Next year will be easier when he is 5.

  10. Stuck in moderation says:

    Long-time reader, having arguably the worst few weeks of my adult life, posted this morning, it seems the details of Worst Week Ever are so bad that they aren’t going to make it past moderation.

    So here’s actually the easy part. Picking my husband up from the mental hospital today after a weeklong stay. He’s never had any mental health treatment before to speak of. Feeling ambivalent. Things are so peaceful with him gone. It would make me the worst wife ever to realize that I don’t love him anymore when he finally, finally went to get some help with his issues, right?

    • Spirograph says:

      I’m sorry, that sounds really, really tough. For what it’s worth, I don’t think that makes you the worst wife ever. That realization is important. What you do with it is also important, and there’s no universal “right” answer. I’m probably a minority, but I don’t believe love is the most important thing in a marriage, and I do believe that love is something that can be lost and regained. Whether that’s something that’s worth your time and effort (because it will definitely take both!) is something only you can decide for yourself. We always talk about putting on your own oxygen mask first, and I hope you’re able to do that in whatever way is most effective for you. Wishing you the best and lots of internet hugs as you sort out your feelings.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon for this. I agree with Spirograph that love can be regained. I also encourage you to be open to how you feel as time goes on. My husband has never been hospitalized but he suffers from depression (both major episodes and dysthymia) and anxiety (including, these days, raging hypochondria both concerning his own health and our childrens’). It’s hard. I love him and I believe our marriage is worth fighting for, but there are times when it has taken all the fight I have. There are definitely times when I thought it wasn’t worth it, it was too hard on me, that it was never going to be better, and if it weren’t for the kids I would have moved on. But he is also getting consistent treatment for the first time and slowly, slowly, slowly it’s getting better. Not all at once. Not always — there are days and weeks where we’re back where we started. But over time it’s better. If you don’t have your own therapist already, I would suggest finding one. Both to help you see clearly when his mental illness filters are making you question your own reality, and to help you figure out what’s reasonable to expect given his issues. Best of luck to you. It’s a hard fight.

      • Anonymous says:

        Same Anonymous. Also adding that what’s so hard is that it’s almost always a very private affair. See, e.g., all of us posting anonymously. If our husbands had cancer, we wouldn’t be secretive about it. My marriage almost fell apart this year due in large part to some of my husband’s distorted thinking. I was holding on to my life as I knew it with my bare hands and yet I had to show up at work, with the kids, with friends as if everything was fine. It shouldn’t be like this but unfortunately it still is. (I hope in the future we look back and think how ridiculous it was that we weren’t all “out” about this.) See if you can find someone — a therapist, a friend — you can confide in safely without feeling like either you or your husband are being judged.

    • Hang in there! This sounds so hard. My husband suffers from mental health issues and on the days when his anxiety is severe, i frequently say to myself things like i didn’t sign up for this, i can’t handle this, how come no one else’s husband has a problem, how come our life has to revolve around when he is feeling anxious, etc. and I am so glad that he works a job with long hours so I don’t have to deal with it. Then there are other days where I remember how much I love him and how great he can be, anxiety and all. It is really really really hard. I’m pregnant with my first and I am a bit nervous about how we will handle all of this with kids.

      As the other poster mentioned, definitely take care of yourself and your own mental health. And remember you do not need to make any decisions today or tomorrow or even the day after that. Try to take it one day at a time. Maybe you will end up needing to go to some counseling of your own to help you figure out how you feel or marriage counseling. Rely on your support system. And just try to remember that while other’s lives may look peachy keen they probably aren’t. You are definitely NOT the worst wife ever for feeling this way. Sending lots of positive thoughts your way.

    • Anon for this says:

      You are not the worst wife ever. These feelings are totally normal and natural. It is absolutely OK to love the person your husband used to be while not liking or loving the person he seems to have become or the way he is currently acting. It is completely understandable for you to feel apprehensive about his return home, especially if his hospitalization was short and he hasn’t fully stabilized.

      Being at home with a spouse who is in the throes of a mental health crisis is exhausting and draining. It’s essential that you find a way to get some safe time alone. That could be taking a day off of work while your kids are at day care, leaving your kids with family or a friend to do errands by yourself on the weekend, or dropping your kids off at the gym’s child watch area while you take a yoga class.

      Remember that you are not responsible for your husband’s illness, and it’s not up to you to fix it. You are not responsible for protecting him against all stressful inputs. One thing you can do, however, is to encourage your husband to be careful in choosing his therapist to ensure that the therapist and is not making things worse. There are lots of terrible therapists out there who will do everything from encouraging manic obsessions to unloading their own problems on the client. A good therapist will be professional and clearheaded and will provide your husband with a neutral, realistic perspective on what he’s going through. Meeting the therapist yourself can be very useful.

      Having gone through this myself, the biggest piece of advice I can offer is to do everything you can to build your credibility with the clinicians caring for your husband. These people are used to viewing family members as part of the problem, and it’s difficult to rebut that presumption and get them to take you seriously. When meeting with clinicians, make sure you always look and act professional. Showing up neatly groomed in your work clothes, as shallow as this sounds, can go a long way towards establishing yourself as an educated professional who is worthy of respect. Enter all meetings prepared with questions and relevant information, and take notes when appropriate.

      Above all, be kind to yourself. This is so, so difficult. Hugs.

  11. My 3 yo emphatically wants to be a ghost for Halloween. This is a silly question, but do I just get a white sheet and cut eyes in it? Will it stay on him? It seems stupid to buy a ghost costume. I’ve seen some simple DIY ones online, but they require other kinds of fabric and I really just need something I can order on Amazon. I can’t go to the fabric store and deal with all that nonsense. His twin has expressed no interest in any costume so we’re thinking we’ll make him a ghost, too, and then get GhostBuster costumes for ourselves. :) (I still want to buy the Slimer costume for our dog, but my husband insists we’re not bringing the dog trick or treating.)

    • Anonymous says:

      My friend had a family of ghosts one year and it was so cute. I believe they cut neck holes in a sheet and then glued black felt on the front of the sheet in a face (so nobody’s head was covered).

    • AwayEmily says:

      It won’t stay on! I have tried this as an adult and it didn’t work (and I like to think I have way more coordination than a 3-year-old). I would cut a hole for his head in the sheet, and then put a white hat on him or tie some extra white fabric on his head.

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